“Two bubbles found they had rainbows on their curves.

They flickered out saying,

It was worth being a bubble, just to have held that rainbow

thirty seconds.

~Carl Sandburg, Bubbles

The cyclone had a name.

We didn’t know it at the time. All we knew was that the seas were too rough for our ship to anchor at Kaikoura, New Zealand. Instead of hiking the Kaikoura Peninsula and visiting a seal colony, we would have another day in the South Pacific Ocean, slowly traveling northward up the New Zealand coast.

Missing ports is always a risk on a cruise – especially when those ports require a tender to travel from ship to shore – but this was especially discouraging because two days earlier we had missed another stop in Port Chalmers. The culprit there was fog. Ironically, the towns of Port Chalmers and Dunedin had been clear and sunny, but the narrow passageway that led from the sea to the port was completely fogged in. Our ship waited all day outside the entrance, with foghorn sounding and bell tolling, but the pesky fog never budged.

I couldn’t shake my disappointment over another missed day as I headed to Seabourn Square for a coffee and comfortable chair. With my back to the windows, I opened my laptop to edit some photos when I overheard a man at the next table exclaim, “Look at that rainbow!” I turned around, grabbed my camera and raced outside.

A brilliant wisp of color was shining through the distant hazy sky. At first it seemed to melt into the clouds, the choppy waves blocking its view, but it soon reappeared as a dash of red and yellow splashing into the white-capped waters. Then suddenly the entire rainbow burst through, a most magnificent arch spanning across the horizon, beginning and ending in the sea.

That night the world outside our ship wasn’t quite finished putting on a show. The sunset, as if it were trying to outdo the rainbow, exploded through the clouds like a yellow ball of fire, leaving a trail of blazing reds and oranges in its wake. This was not a calm and peaceful end-of-day farewell. It was an intense I will show you everything I’ve got kind of sunset that dared us not to be dazzled.

 *     *     *     *     *

The following morning, we learned that we had traveled through Cyclone Fehi. The storm had wreaked havoc up and down New Zealand’s east coast, pounding Christchurch, where we had just been, and Wellington, where we were arriving.

Cyclone Fehi’s fury may have been responsible for our missed stop in Kaikoura, but it also swooped in with a lesson I needed to be reminded of. No matter how disappointing a situation might seem, silver linings are always there, waiting to be discovered. Sometimes they are subtle…and sometimes they scream at you from across the New Zealand sky.

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