I wanted to share this bit of unexpected beauty. A couple more views:
Shortly after noticing the rainbow, we noticed the large queue of vehicles parked on the side of the highway, as people stopped to take pictures. Usually when you see cars parked by the side of this fast-moving highway, you look for a bear on the side of the road. In this case however, the rainbow was the object of attraction. We joined the crowd, got the photos, and then managed continue on our way without causing any accidents, as I hope all the other sky-watchers also did. (But I could see the headline in my mind already: "Multi-car pile-up on the Trans Canada attributed to Rainbow!")
Of course the rainbow has a lot of cultural meanings, most of which have something to do with bridging heaven and earth, or gods communicating with humans. (Iris, from Greek mythology, is my personal favourite.) I considered calling this post something heavily suggestive like "After the Storm" (there was a wicked storm prior to the rainbow's appearance) but then I realized that I have no desire to throw up rainbow-y platitudes.
But I feel very happy to have seen the rainbow. It is an unexpectedly sublime surprise, experienced while driving home on a busy highway at around 6pm. Even though the drive through Banff National Park and Bow Valley Provincial Park is stunningly beautiful on any occasion, let's face it: when you are driving on a highway at dinner time on the last day of a holiday weekend, heading home, the highway is a means to an end. You keep your foot on the gas pedal, focus on the traffic, feel tired or even grouchy, and don't usually make that much of the experience. Then suddenly there is a rainbow. Suddenly random commuters shared the experience of observing something utterly perfect. We didn't just pass through; we held a moment in time.
I loved every second of it.