|Newton Takes a Dancing Lesson|
| One crisp October late
afternoon, I was building Iowa pole barns alongside the corn field for farmer Roy, when out from the house,
just home from school, comes running youngest daughter Elizabeth - but better and affectionately known by
one and all as simply 'Bits. 'Bits brings me lemonade and an apple and says her mother says that it is time
for a break.|
But 'Bits has a much more urgent mission: She wants to be sure I see the shining rainbow up against the storming gray eastern sky. Then 'Bits asks me, "Why are rainbows that way?" Well, being a learned fellow, and a scientist, and a serious person, I explain to 'Bits that a great man of Science named Isaac Newton discovered that tiny waves of sunlight were secretly made of colors. There was red, orange and yellow, then green, blue and violet, and even "indigo", he said, in there between the blue and violet - which most of us can't quite see. I said wise Isaac also found out that water drops and ice crystals and prisms of glass could make these colors appear when all the little waves were separated apart.
Bits listened to this rainbow lecture very carefully, then, quite lost in serious thought, she asked me in exasperation, "Did this Newton guy ever tell you why rainbows are so happy?"
| ...here was innocent life
demanding an answer... so there was only one thing to "say": I looked at 'Bits, and 'Bits looked at me,
we both looked at the brightening rainbow again, and up we jumped right there and did a rainbow dance -
what maybe looked a little like a generic Celtic jig, Cajun zydeco, Caribbean mambo, and a poor imitation
of a Lakota rain dance, all rolled into one, but who knows for sure? From down the hill in silhouette, we
probably looked like Dorothy and The Scarecrow. Anyway, while we danced, we sang a brand new, seven color,
cornfield song - little 'Bits, age 5, and this old man, age 60.|
So it seems that Newton knows how rainbows work, but 'Bits knows why. There will be time enough for 'Bits to learn about spectrums and wavelengths and refractive indexes, but the best discovery is that rainbows make you dance. We hoped Newton found that out too.
Next morning, I hear that 'Bits tells everyone at the breakfast table about
Newton's wavy colors - even about "in-jee-go" (which most people can't see). Her Dad and Mom were amazed
at how advanced kindergarten teaching has become. But 'Bits and myself understand now that there are
rainbows in the sky, rainbows in our songs, and rainbows in the mind...