About One "Earth-Mother", Clouds and Rainbows in Northern Brittany

Two years ago, while he was landscaping the seawards garden, Yves needed to create new contour lines which sometimes meant digging deep into the ground in order to add new rich soil. I stayed at Les Tertres to oversee the whole process. One late afternoon, Yves knocked at the door and with a grin, he presented me with an oblong and rounded granite rock. “I think we just unearthed the Celtic goddess who’s been watching over your gardens and protecting you. Do you want to keep “her”?”

It was an enjoyable and poetical theory and “she” rests on a huge rock Yves had put down while landscaping the first garden, some fifteen years ago.

My “Earth-Mother” looks good, happy and contented and the stone does look very much like a palaeolithic idol after all.

And now what’s the relation between a stone, clouds and rainbows?

I have deep Celtic roots which explain why this stone means so much to me… besides the fact that this chunk of granite was found so deep in the ground, a place where it did not belong to. Something that my Celtic forebears from the “Montagne Noire” would have liked so much. I remember old people from my village pointing their forefinger towards the laden skies: “Children, be careful, the sky is going to fall over our heads”, in a most sepulchral tone. Were we scared? Not really but weren’t we all somehow “Chicken Little” at one point of our young lives!

I live in Brittany, another Celtic “Mecca”, and because my house overlooks the ocean, I spend a lot of time watching the sea and the sky. Not because I fear it’s going to fall. But simply because the sky in Brittany is breathtaking from sunrise to sunset… And do not get me started on talking about the Milky Way at night!

There are places in the world where you open your eyes in the morning and you know the sky will be blue from morning till night. Not a cloud. The sun shines all day long. So boring!

The sun shines all day long in Brittany too. It does. It has to  from a scientific point of view, if I may say so. But some days you only see it from time to time or not at all. In Brittany we have a saying: “The weather is fine at least several times a day.”  We use it to convince our friends that living in Brittany is not too much of a hardship actually.

Before I start ranting about our cloudy skies, let me make clear that I am not about to give a lecture about clouds. Wikipedia does this a thousand times better than I ever would. I won’t even try to post pictures of specific clouds, because tonight this is not my point. I just want to share with you our Breton skies when one lives by the sea. Most of the time, they look like scenery for a movie filled with magnificence, enchantment, sumptuousness, grandeur and drama of course.

Whenever we don’t wake up surrounded with fleeting wisps of mist coming up from the sea, our blue sky is never totally clear. Translucide clouds leisurely float away (a “vaporous mass” in meteorological vocabulary). And the sky looks like a crisscross of plane tracks. Our Breton skies are filled with evanescent aerial freeways… all day long!

Then the clouds may get more powerful. There are strong winds in Brittany. Clouds move away and then they come back stronger and more intrusive, not necessarily rain-bearing, and very often in strata, in very closely spaced layers, almost in 3-D.

Most of the time cloudy skies do not mean that it will rain. Do you see the blue streaks here and there. Sunny weather may not be this far away! The wind blows and sweeps the clouds out. But they will come back because above the sea, the air mass is very unstable. (Listen to the meteorologist!)

And they can get very impressive…

Even sunsets are cloudy, some so cloudy that the sun is barely discernable. And then there are days when clouds bring out a fiery sundown.


What about sunrise? In my area, the sun rises over the fields (east) and the clouds over the sea (west) take on a delightful pink hue.

Beautiful, I know but does it rain in Brittany? Will those clouds end up being useful besides being a delight to the eyes?

They do. They do. It rains a lot in Brittany. One has to learn to live with/under the rain. I enjoy sunny days but in the summer, one look at my garden and I wish it’d rain more often… Brittany is a very important agricultural area in France. Farmland needs rain.

And I need to talk about rain clouds if I am to write my story about the most incredibly strange rainbow I have ever seen in my life.

So don’t worry, it rains in Brittany. And rain clouds can be glorious too. The sky never looks dreary, at least not where I live!

Fascinating how you get to see the waves of rain coming before they are actually going to come down on you!

Stormy weather is often backed up with the most wondrous luminosity. Storms  coming from the ocean are usually extremely violent with high winds.

The sun is shining again after the rain. This fact is very well-known, isn’t it?
In Brittany like everywhere else, the stopping of the rain and the return of the sun may give birth to a very beautiful phenomenon: a rainbow.

I have watched hundreds of rainbows in Brittany, like this one. They appear quickly and then they fade away so gently. Lovely rainbows.

We arrived at Les Tertres on Friday. It was raining. On Saturday morning, we woke up at dawn which is not extraordinary actually since the sun rises around 8 a.m. nowadays. Eastwards, there was the most fiery sunrise at the end of our garden, over the fields.

Westwards, the sky was a little bit cloudy, hazy, I’d say, over the sea. No rain at all. Not yet! It was still quite dark though besides the reddish glow from the rising sun over the clouds.

And then on our right, half a rainbow appeared, arising from the horizon, right from the ocean. Really. One half of a rainbow, taking shape determinedly. A slice of rainbow. Not enough time to run upstairs to grab my camera. My phone would have to do!





 A few minutes later, its other very incomplete half appeared over the hill on our left. Not as strong though. Almost dull, probably because the sun-bathed clouds below had this glimmering orange glow.

At that point, we were standing outside on the terrace facing the sea.

And this incredible thing happened, right in front of us. The two halves tentatively met for a very ephemeral moment. On the right a double rainbow appeared, so faint that it looked quite ghostly… 
Then the rainbow fanned out, complete with a dantesque setting of sulphurous clouds and dark slats.

 One gigantic fan which did not fade away as usual. It simply vanished in a few minutes. Behind us, the sun was still flaring up but not for long. Very dark rain clouds were sweeping into the sky.

Then dolphins appeared from nowhere, energetically fishing right below our house. About fifty of them. They had probably been there from the beginning but we were too mesmerized by the rainbow. We only noticed them a few minutes before they moved away, still giving chase to a school of fish.

It looked like rain and it rained all day long! I love Brittany.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


LeRon and Colleen Torrie said...

Wow! I absolutely love clouds. We have clouds like that in Alberta over the waving wheat fields. But so beautiful over the ocean too. And the rainbows. Wow! That's all I can say. Wow!

Myrna said...

GORGEOUS SKIES!! Wow. No wonder you love it there. So beautiful.