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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

During the course of this word project I have paid tribute to two specific colors: blue and green. Today I’m feeling in a yellow sort of mood. Why? It struck me. It is cheerful. It is, strangely, unusual.

Also because I just finished a client blog about September’s birth month flowers, which are aster and morning glory, both predominantly purple and pink. Each month throughout the year I’ve written a blog for this client about the month’s birthday flowers, and I have been struck many times by how many flowers are purple, which I wouldn’t have guessed since the first color that comes to mind when I think of flowers is red, and then perhaps orange and yellow. But some absurd number of flowers are predominantly purple or at least come in purple.

It struck me because after disliking yellow for so long I’ve sort of rekindled a love affair with it, primarily as the color of delicious food, but also as a color that is less typical than I once thought.

I don’t recall exactly why I developed a dislike for yellow but it probably had to do with the fact that I lived with a bright yellow shag rug in my bedroom for years, and that my bedroom walls were painted yellow, and then when I got my own bedroom furniture (after sharing a set with several brothers) it had yellow flowers on it, which were fine until I got sick of yellow so I painted them peach.

Then I got sick of peach.

But that is another blog.

Yellow does not feature prominently in my life to this day. I don’t buy yellow clothes. And because I am OCD I checked my closet after writing that sentence and I can tell you with full authority that I do not own a single thing with a single bit of yellow, not even a flower petal, not even a stripe – except for one t-shirt with a rainbow on it that necessarily has a yellow bit.

I don’t have yellow décor. The only yellow thing I could find was a candle jar painted yellow because it once held a lemon scented candle.

I have exactly one Hello Kitty with any yellow at all, the one wearing a sort of zoo print.

And she looks lovely with her yellow birthday flowers.

It doesn’t turn up much, and so many colors can be yellow imposters that it’s sometimes hard to say something is definitively yellow. I have a gold blanket, for example, but if I wanted to I could call it yellow. It’s just… a marginally darker yellow so it gets to be called a fancy word like gold and get away with it.

I feel like maybe yellow is a bit slighted when it comes to things like that. Take a hay bale, for instance. The farm across the street is filled with them, giant wheel-like rolls of hay dotting the hills. It’s quite striking. You could call them yellow. But really, you’d call them… hay. Right? Hay colored. Or maybe straw. Or golden.

Mustard is yellow, but you call that mustard. Right??

Anyway I found a new appreciation for yellow after writing all those client blogs and getting sick of purple flowers. At first it was exciting because purple isn’t a color you see everywhere. It has to almost be purposeful, like you specifically make something purple or buy something purple. Then I realized everything is purple and it got boring.

Yellow is also the color of glow. Not the color of the thing that glows, just the aura around it. A candle flame is not yellow but if you squint or look at a photo of a candle, it glows yellow. Streetlights. Whiskey in a glass. Yellow, it turns out, is underrated after all.

Neither the glass nor the lighting was yellow but somehow it glows that way.

I did have a yellow kitchen when Ralph and I got our first apartment, which is hilarious since after having a yellow bedroom and hating it so I repainted it peach, I went ahead and painted my first kitchen yellow. Bright, lemon yellow. I guess I was going with a sunflower theme.

Sunflowers, of course, are the most perfect manifestation of yellow.

Thing I remember about that kitchen: being newly married and not having done much cooking on my own, I decided to deep fry something and dumped about a gallon of oil in a stock pot and turned up the temperature on the stove. A few minutes later the thing exploded in a shower of oil that covered every wall, counter and appliance. I was, fortunately, not standing close enough to be seriously hurt, just scalded in splotches on my arms where the spatters landed.

I do recall it was impossible to paint over that. Paint, apparently, does not adhere to oil. So I had yellow oil spattered walls for the duration of our time there, which, when it comes to color, could have been worse. At least it blended. Who knows, maybe it even looked artistic. I could have said I did it on purpose and people would have been impressed.

Anyway that is not about yellow so much as it is about me being stupid.

It took me a long time to get over disliking yellow as a concept. Still, I can’t help but love it as an accessory.

A yellow flower in a garden bed is striking. You really can’t have dandelions without yellow, and daffodils theoretically come in a few other colors but none so iconic as yellow.

In pursuit of some interesting yellow things to share, I scoured the 13,000+ photos on my phone for inspiration. Even Apple doesn’t appreciate yellow. I used the search bar in iPhotos to look for “yellow” and it came up with a grand total of six photos. One was a container of cornmeal, which to be fair is accurate if you can look inside the container, but a bit confounding when you look at the oddly white exterior. Four of the six photos were not even yellow-adjacent. And one merely had the word “yellow” in a recipe – yellow chartreuse, to be specific, which is also almost impossible to find in the real world.

So I had to do it the old fashioned way and look with my eyeballs, which when you have 13,000+ photos is a lot harder than writing a blog about yellow, I can tell you that much.

I did, however, find that yellow featured prominently in delicious things. This fabulous yellow corn.

Some gloriously yellow peppers, which in the supermarket are alway two or three times the price of green but at the Farmers Market are all the same and somehow always make a thing taste better.

Of course eggs, which if we’re talking Farmers Market can be anything from pale yellow to bright orange-yellow depending on the chicken laying them. Here they look spectacular on top of my Croque Madame.

Even carrots come in yellow. And purple, too, although the inside of the purple carrots is also yellow. That that, purple!

Tomatoes come in yellow, as does summer squash and the blossoms that birth them. Gourds can be yellow, pineapple is yellow, and of course lemons, which are as delightful in a pie as they are as a garnish on my yellow cocktail glass. Yes, I do have a single yellow cocktail glass!

Popcorn can be yellow too, although even the kitties are skeptical as to whether this is a natural state of affairs. They still ate it.

As I conclude this reflection on the color yellow, I can definitively say that I will not be painting my walls yellow anytime soon, nor buying canary yellow pants. After writing about green, I did buy myself a couple of green shirts, but I probably won’t be wearing yellow or adding it to my sock collection. But I do love when it shows up unexpectedly.

Photo: the Wonderland train outside of Boston. The stripes in every train station everywhere are yellow, as is the sign telling you where you’re going.