The Sun is the source of essentially all color on our planet. Sunlight is full-spectrum, and when you see something that has color, what you see is the reflected color that is not absorbed. When the sun is at its brightest, the world is over-saturated with color, and we see less definition. Paradoxically, there is so much color that we actually see less of it as direct sunlight trends to wash out everything. It is only when the sun is filtered that we see nuance and hue. Under a grey overcast day with light rain the solid monolithic green of a forest a becomes a multitude of greens, as well as reds, browns and yellows. Resurrection Bay, on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula, is a deep fiord that accentuates that effect with steep craggy mountains providing depth and texture, shadow and light. It really is the coastal rainforest at its finest.
Today, I saw the sun through a different filter. The Alaska Sealife Center includes a delightful aquarium that is a must see if you ever get to Seward. Every time I visit I discover something new. The first time it was the obvious things, watching birds “flying” through the water, seeing birds in a whole new light, and environment, as they show more grace underwater than one can imagine as they kind of lumber through the air. I went back, and learned about fish policy, and the attempts at restoring Prince William Sound, and what has our had not recovered from the Exxon Valdez spill. This time my discovery was a new way to look at rain.
The signature piece for the Sea Life Center is the outdoor pen for the rehabilitation of marine mammals, filled with water constantly taken from and returned to Resurrection Bay. Greater than 2 stories tall, you can stand at the bottom, and look up at the surface of the water. What I discovered with this trip is that in a rainfall, each drop becomes a pin-prick of light; sunlight refracted to a diamond’s radiance. As the water hits, it creates circles emanating outwards, each of which creates a mini rainbow, as transient as the raindrop itself. Filtered light falling on water from the bay, showing a new layer of nature’s beauty.