And then it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen one for a long time. Probably years. And after some further reflection, I realised my children have never, ever seen one.
I nearly typed underneath “My boys have never seen a rainbow”, but I stopped myself. It sounded like they were missing out – but are they? They live in an amazing corner of the world, surrounded by nature. But still, they have never seen different colours form an arch over the clouds.
In fact, I don’t even think they are aware rainbows really exist. They are something that appears in cartoons they watch, on their nursery logo, and in picture books we read before bed. But not in real life.
Well, not in their real life anyway.
The realisation was a sad one for me and I spent the evening deep in thought about everything else they are missing…
They have never woken up to find the world under a blanket of snow.
They have never seen a spider’s web spun in frost.
They have never seen a bonfire dancing in the sky or jumped when a firework exploded in the sky above their heads.
They have never watched their breathe turn to smoke in a frosty air.
Or sat patiently in the car and watched as we scraped ice from the windscreen with fingers, faces, and toes turning numb.
They have never felt the joy of running through a pile of crimson leaves on the pavement – or the crunch as they are crushed beneath their feet.
All these things they have never seen.
I always feel the most homesick at this time of year. Not when the sun is shining on family and friends, nor when the scent of barbecues fills the air, and nor when people start making day trips to the beach – as we know these things all too well, living in an eternal summer.
No, it is hardest now, when we know that the evenings are drawing in, new coats are being purchased, fires are being lit on Sunday afternoons, and excitement for the festive season is starting to bubble in tummies.
All these things I grew up seeing, feeling, hearing, and touching.
And my boys have simply never seen.
But are they really missing out?
They have seen different things, perhaps – but oh, they have seen.
They have looked out of the car window and seen caravans of camels walking elegantly through the desert with their noses high in the air.
They have bent down to collect pale pink starfish from the shore, as waves lap at their fingers.
They have watched falcons fly elegantly through an orange sky.
They have seen antelope trotting across sand dunes.
They have collected handfuls of curled shells and bubbled coral and taken them home in buckets to keep by their bed.
They have watched sand storms roll in quickly, covering everything in a veil of rusty dust.
They have paddled in shallow water, squealing with happiness as shoals of fish swim past their feet.
They have heard parakeets chirping away on branches and glanced up to see them fly away with a bright green flash.
They have smelt frangipani and jasmine fill the air on warm evenings, before picking flowers so they can sniff the whole way home.
They have run, kicked, and splashed through rain like it’s the very highlight of their year.
And they have danced on the beach in December.
All these things that they will grow up seeing, feeling, hearing, and touching.
Different to my childhood, but still the stuff of wonderful childhood memories.
So as I sit here, craving a dose of frosty temperatures and thinking about the smell of bonfires in the air, I will remember that.
They have never seen a rainbow.
But oh, they have seen.