This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.
Friday, March 11, 2022
I did it! I made the oat muffins with carrots. I do believe they were a great success.
Tonight Ralph and I went to the movies. Since I neither like movie popcorn nor want to put a billion calories of fat and salt into my body, I do the “stick something in your purse” thing so I have a snack while he scarfs down the popcorn. Today I cut up a bunch of carrots.
Good thing tomorrow is the Farmers Market. Good thing my addiction has transferred from cookies to carrots.
It should surprise no one that this whole carrot obsession birthed another word, since words seem to come at me from every direction and through obscure channels regularly.
The word it sparked is color. There is something so satisfying about walking into the kitchen, otherwise designed in shades of gray, and seeing that bright pop of orange in a bowl on the counter. Normally, carrots would be in the fridge. But they’re just so pretty that I turned them into edible décor. And then ate them. Which means I have no more décor.
But I do have words! Colorful ones. The thing about color is that sometimes it’s more striking than others. Like orange carrots with green tops. The contrast is delightful. Not everything looks as good in every color. A cerulean sky, for example, is much more arresting than a washed out gray one.
It’s in that spirit that I decided that for each color of the rainbow (plus a few bonus colors) I would choose one – ONE! – thing on planet earth that looks just fantastic in that color. Maybe better than all the other things on planet earth.
This is, of course, going to be impossible, sort of like choosing a favorite book or the best seashell I’ve ever collected (hint: all of them) but it’s the limitation I’m going with. No cheating.
I have to start with red because it’s my favorite color, not that cheap candy apple red of plastic toys and midlife crisis Corvettes, but deep, rich, bold reds. Don’t get me wrong, candy apple red looks great on a candy apple. But the place where red really shines its reddest for me is on a fat, ripe, just-picked strawberry.
Things that don’t qualify in this category: strawberries bought at the supermarket. Half the time they’re only half red, and the rest is some greenish white where they didn’t get enough sun. They mostly look kind of washed out and they’re mutant sizes, anyway.
Seriously, look at that. That, my friends, is not Photoshopped, not even a little. That is a perfect expression of red in the world. You can just taste that red.
If we’re going in rainbow order, it’s hard to find anything quite as stunning as an orange sunset. I’ve never seen a sunrise half as stunning as a sunset, and while I haven’t traveled the world, I’ve certainly traveled the country and I’ve seen both from coast to coast. Sunsets for the win.
I dare you to argue with me. Sure, carrots look great in a bowl, and pumpkins are pretty amazing, too, but a hot orange sun with fire glowing clouds is something I will stop to watch every time.
My father calls them monstrosities. I don’t even think he’s joking. But I love them. Bright yellow sunflowers, towering over everything, nodding on a summer day. Yellow has never been one of my preferred colors. In fact, as a kid I had bedroom furniture decorated with yellow flowers, roses, perhaps. As a teenager, I bought a bottle or several of peach colored acrylic paint and painstakingly painted over every one. But if there’s one place yellow belongs, it’s on a sunflower. Nobody sends me roses. Everybody sends me sunflowers.
I did an entire blog about green. It’s so omnipresent that it almost becomes invisible. But it’s hard to miss when you’re standing in the middle of an old growth redwood forest. Did you know that redwoods are fire resistant? That’s a good thing, considering the increasingly awful California wildfires. They have lots of tannins, which don’t burn, and very little resin, which does.
Green goes to trees, but not just any tree. Evergreens, like Sequoia and Ponderosa pine, and even the little fir tree in your house at Christmas, wear green in a wholly magnificent way.
You know what looks amazingly blue? The sky. But the sky is not at its most interesting in blue. It’s pretty stunning, don’t get me wrong, to stare out at a vast blue expanse. But a red-orange-pink-gray sky has a lot more personality. I did an entire blog about blue, too.
But as I searched my memory banks and photo albums for the one thing in blue that struck my fancy the most (the ocean was a close second), I came across this gem.
That, my friends, is a birthday cake that my mother made for one of my brothers some years ago. I don’t know why it was blue, I’m sure there’s a story there. But it’s not nearly as entertaining as the story of why the cake looks like a terrace on one side.
It looks like a terrace on one side, because my mother took the cake out of the oven and set it on the table to cool. Then she turned around to shut the oven off and by the time she went a full 360 degrees, Savannah, the family’s Cocker Spaniel, had already dragged it to the floor and scarfed down half of it.
There was much yelling and wringing of hands, and in the end my mother did the only thing a pet person can do. She chopped off the part covered in dog drool and iced the rest.
It looks rather striking, doesn’t it?
And now for the bonus colors.
Pink is not one of my favorite colors but for some reason, it and its myriad shades have followed me around for most of my life. My entire wedding party wore shades of not-quite-pink-but-close-enough, for reasons that are just too ridiculous to go into here. Food isn’t pink, at least not anything worth eating. Pink clothes make me feel either like a child or like I should be wearing a visor and white capris at a country club golf course.
Pink belongs in the garden. It belongs on wildflowers, and on carnations. It belongs on the dogwood blossoms that explode into cottony puffs in spring. Pink is for flowers. Even roses.
This particular flower lived at the Heidrun Meadery on the Point Reyes seashore. I drank mead made from honey derived from that wildflower. Pink, it turns out, may not work for food but is quite delicious when converted to mead. I would have taken a picture of the pink blossoms that have already begun flowering outside my window, except it turns out there’s a blizzard going on right now. It’s a March thing.
Last, I will leave you with a portrait in black and white. These two colors, or non-colors if you want to be scientific about it, are really the best friends of colors. Something magically eye-catching happens when you put them together, like on a piano keyboard. Turns out they are also quite the perfect colors for cows.
Really, any animal in black and white is gorgeous. Think zebras. Think chickadees. But I didn’t have pictures of those, so it goes to cows. I’ve seen lots of cows in lots of shades, although never a purple one, and along with sunsets they are something I will stop and watch delightedly every time. These Oreo cows are just darn pretty.
Speaking of purple, you may have noticed that I skipped it. Alas, I was quite unable to find anything worthy of being the ONE (and I really stuck to one!) thing that looked absolutely striking and memorable. Seems like that has to be a color challenge for another day.
My favorite colors are the deepest, richest shades, the ones that wake your eyes up when you walk into a room, that poke at your soul and tug at your inner poet. It’s the one thing I notice above all others, above shapes and textures and scents. It’s why I buy ALL the peppers and carrots at the Farmers Market and why I choose the bright pink cake from the bakery case even though pink isn’t my color.
When I meet new people, I remember them by the color they wear. The problem is when I meet them for the second time and they change their shirt.
So here’s to celebrating and noticing color, and letting it brighten up our days, whatever the hue.
Photo: a piece of a rainbow outside my window last summer.