This morning I walked through the dining room at Darlington House and nearly tripped over two rays of refracted color on the floor.
No, Dear Reader, a little elf hadn't painted them on the carpet during the night.
The source of the rays was sunlight refracted by crystal prisms hanging on a pair of antique gilt-bronze girandoles standing on either end of the mantel in the room. We bought our girandoles many years ago from Charles & Rebekah Clark, dealers of American classical furniture, lighting, and decorative arts. The Clarks feature numerous examples of similar girandoles on their website.
Before owning girandoles, I had always assumed that the purpose of their crystals—other than being decorative—was to reflect candlelight at night. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they also throw refracted rays of color when hit by sunlight during the day.
There were splashes of color scattered all about our dining room this morning. They are one of the pleasures at Darlington House when the sun travels far enough south during the late autumn and into the winter months such that its light streams through the front windows and creates a play of rays through the girandoles' crystals.
But, like all rays, they are ephemeral and momentary, and just as quickly as they form, they vanish!