Somewhere over a Bart. Anglicus rainbow.






We have been using our Field Centre’s Rainbow-coloured umbrella a lot recently but this morning the clouds parted, we left the umbrella in the porch and went out to watch a double rainbow become more vibrant with its ‘end’ dipping into the King’s Stream down the valley to our South.

Putting the science of rainbows aside for one moment, this rainbow was a true Bartholomew Anglicus 13th-century rainbow  – a rainbow that needs Bart’s own poetic words to describe it:

“The Rainbow is impression gendered in an hollow cloud and dewy, disposed to rain in endless many gutters, as it were shining in a mirror, and is shapen as a bow, and sheweth divers colours, and is gendered by the beams of the sun or of the moon. And is but seldom gendered by beams of the moon, no more but twice in fifty years, as Aristotle saith. In the rainbow by cause of its clearness be seen divers forms, kinds, and shapes that be contrary. Therefore the bow seemeth coloured, for, as Bede saith, it taketh colour of the four elements. For therein, as it were in any mirror, shineth figures and shapes and kinds of elements. For of fire he taketh red colour in the overmost part, and of earth green in the nethermost, and of the air a manner of brown colour, and of water somedeal blue in the middle. And first is red colour, that cometh out of a light beam, that touches the outer part of the roundness of the cloud: then is a middle colour somedeal blue, as the quality asketh, that hath mastery in the vapour, that is in the middle of the cloud. Then the nethermost seemeth a green colour in the nether part of a cloud; there the vapour is more earthly. And these colours are more principal than others.”

The above is from the Gutenberg Project (over 50,000 free ebooks) and Bart’s words capture the wonderful natural experience of the colours above and around him. Whilst science’s words can also explain a rainbow, they do not cover the wonder of a rainbow. Here’s the Wiki version for example:

“A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured arc.”

See what I mean. Who is going to rush outside with enthusiasm to see one of those.

The view of the World we take is in our hands. We can see rain as wet and shelter from it or we can simply rejoice in it – and get thoroughly wet. We can sit on a cleaned stretch of yellow beach sand in the summer holiday sunshine and not realise that each morning, some team from the local authority need to wake up early to clear the plastic and debris off the sand so as to preserve the tourism trade. We can eat crops that take a lot of water to grow or those which grow with lower water requirements. We can waste water or save water.

Whatever your choice of view, remember that many small farmers and households are now finding it impossible to dig wells deep enough to reach clean water due to intensive large scale water extraction from ancient aquifers for industrial farming and other high profit-making exploits.

As you use the water presently available to you, remember that your global neighbour has water requirements too. If there’s not enough clean water to go round ……. then what?


“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”