On New Year’s Day the weather-beaten residents of northeast Ohio received a few special gifts from Mother Nature: sunny skies and temperatures reaching a balmy 61 degrees! That is downright tropical for a January day in Ohio, especially after the frozen tundra of a December we endured.

My husband and I attended the annual Polar Plunge at the Erie Kai Tavern and beautiful Firefly Beach Resort, walked out on the frozen shoreline of Lake Erie, and watched over 45 people plunge into the 38-degree water. I’m still amazed by this feat, but this year it just didn’t seem as brutal for those fearless plungers. If you’ve never been to the Erie Kai, it is a great place to enjoy a cold drink, listen to live bands, learn how to dance, or hang out on the lovely shores of Lake Erie.

As the day progressed, the true Ohio psycho weather ensued, and we experienced rain, cloudy skies, sunshine, and plummeting temperatures. I was not complaining because the brief respite in the cold for part of the day allowed me to walk on the beach, collect sea glass, and, later in the afternoon, I witnessed a gorgeous rainbow over Lake Erie.

Ohhhh, wow, whoaaa, look at that, it’s so beautiful… I thought to myself. Unlike Hungrybear9562, I did not cry, take a three-minute video of the rainbow, post it to YouTube, and get 23 million YouTube hits, but I did wonder a little about what it all meant. It was the first day of 2011, and rainbows are a rare occurrence in Ohio, so the experience had a magical quality to it. I decided my rainbow sighting must have some deep spiritual meaning for me.

After a little Internet research, I learned there was a practical scientific reasoning behind my sighting: Rainbows happen when the sun is shining while it is raining. Yep, the sun was shining, and it did rain in the afternoon, so, damn, the psycho Ohio weather was responsible for my rainbow connection.

Next, my yogic thought process kicked in as I thought about how the seven colors of the rainbow could also be tied to the seven centers or chakras in the human body. Perhaps I was getting a message to get more in touch with my chakras and finish all my chakra homework assigned as part of my yoga-teacher training.

But the more childlike, imaginative side of my personality had to do a little further digging to find that rainbows have many meanings and are a symbol of peace, hope, and unity. A rainbow can be a sign of a new beginning, when the old is swept away (a perfect sign to see on 1/1/11). It can also signify the cyclical evolving of a new world (the world is supposed to come to an end as we know it on 12/21/12). Wow, that was one divine covenant of a sign and one that has special significance to me as we enter 2011.

Hungrybear9562 was not smoking dope when he saw his double rainbow (well, maybe he was smoking something), because it is fairly common for a rainbow sighting to provoke a deep emotional response. I know it did for me; it brought out a childlike wonder and evoked a sense of joy and optimism for the coming year and, now that I know a little more about rainbows, a hope for peace and unity throughout the world.

I would love to hear about any rainbow sightings you’ve had recently or what you think rainbows symbolize.

The Awesome 2011 Erie Kai Polar Plungers!