Yesterday I was out working in the garden. It was a beautiful day—a bit chilly, but sunny and the sky was blue with only a few streaks of clouds. The blue reminded me of our vacation in St. John in the Virgin Islands. We camped and I was so taken by all the shades of blue everywhere. The sky, the water, even the house colors. My house attests to the fact that I am a real color person. It is almost like a crayon box, but the bright colors of the rooms make me happy.
As I kept looking up at the sky yesterday and remembering St. John, I thought of how much I associate color with place. A few years ago we camped at Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan and there I was taken with the lush greens. The grasses wore green in so many different shades that I didn’t even know existed. Even the water had a greenish cast. It was beautiful.
Then I started thinking about other places we’d been, and I wondered if they brought a color to mind.
London, where we lived for three years, will always be gray and white to me. The row houses along the street echo those colors, as do other buildings including the steel-gray tower of Canary Wharf where my husband worked. The often rainy and foggy weather further gray as the dominant color scheme of London. The Thames is a streak of gray running through the city. Not to say that we didn’t have pretty days there—and on a pretty day, London is the most gorgeous city in the world—but London makes me think in hues of grey. Even the blue circles which mark abodes of the once-famous are a blue-grey.
Savannah, where I grew up, always makes me think of red—red brick buildings (ironically called Savannah gray brick) and red everywhere because it’s my mom’s favorite color. Also, Savannah generally makes me think of sunburns, probably because I had more than my fair share there, and the color of blistered skin is red, or at least a vibrant pink. (Perhaps a reason pink is not one of my favorite colors? Ah the potential psychology of color!)
Maine makes me think of white. White snow but also white Cape Cod houses with green shutters and white caps on an often-windy ocean or lake. And white sand at the beach. And the white whipped cream my sister squirts into my children’s mouths as they stand there like little white-breasted birds with their mouths open.
Then I tried to think of a color for New York, but I was at a loss. The shiny steel of the buildings, subway cars, and buses, but also red and white brick, gray stone, and white sidewalks. I always noticed the blue of the sky there, probably because you had to look up to do so—the extra effort must have made an impression. But the green of Central Park and the occasional tree on the sidewalk also stood out—again, probably because it is an under-utilized color in the city. I also see the yellow-gold of construction vehicles when I think back to our time in The Big Apple. Once Joseph arrived, we spent a lot of time observing the always on-going construction work in Manhattan, and we were never short of places to see it! So, even in my remembered impressions, New York is a rainbow, a place one can’t reduce to one word, or in this case, one color.
Thank goodness I am not blind– close but not quite. Nothing that can’t be fixed with extremely powerful lenses! Sometimes I even take out my contacts or take off my glasses and look around at all the color when it blurs together. It’s beautiful in an eerie, bizarre kind of way. I love white lights on the Christmas tree, but I have lost out on this battle to my husband and children, and I must admit, colored lights blur amazing well on a background of green! I wonder if I’ll remember my children’s childhood in splashes of color? Probably, since I already remember phases of my own life by the color of my clothing…