This rainbow appeared late in the afternoon following a brief shower. I was on a deck with friends who noticed it simultaneously. I thought how they reacted described more about them than they realized.
"Refraction at work," one person said. "There's a pot of gold out there in those trees," another quipped. "I used to love rainbows as a kid," a third person offered.
To me, immediately explaining the wonders of a rainbow as refraction, or as light rays being bent at varying wavelengths through a prism of water, signals that the 'mystery of nature' has been replaced by the 'reality of science' for this person. That's not always a good tradeoff, even if the explanation was true.
Thinking first of the pot of gold shows that whimsy still plays a role in this person's life. They know there's no pot of gold in the trees, but at some point in their life they probably believed there was, and even now, they likely want to believe.
Associating a rainbow with childhood experiences says this person has pleasant memories of those times. Their youth was likely filled with other happy memories, rainbows being just one.
While it's obviously unfair for me to label anyone by their fleeting comment after witnessing a rainbow, it made me think of my own reaction and what it said about me. I won't share that here.
"You can't enjoy a rainbow without first enduring clouds and rain,
yet not every storm will guarantee you a rainbow." -- Unknown