Saturday, 26 May 2018

Colour Me Delighted

After our rainy winter, the sun came out, and it hasn’t stopped shining for weeks. It’s been great watching the colours unfold after that long grey winter – white snowdrops, yellow daffodils, multihued tulips, pink bleeding hearts blending with sunny leopard’s bane; today, the garden features pink and purple rhodos, an orange azalea, yellow irises, brilliant blue veronica, and the beginnings of fuschia foxgloves. And there’s so much more to come. I love it.

The front yard....

And the back yard.

And here are a few more colourful beauties in our yard. (They're doing so well because of the tender loving care the resident sweetie bestows on them every day; I'm his helper, but he does the lion's share of the work.)

I recognize that just writing this description -- and posting these photos -- has made some readers cringe. All that colour – it sets their teeth on edge. Too much, too garish, too busy! A few years ago I read a memoir by one of Canada’s leading poets, Patrick Lane. It was his story of recovery from alcoholism through working in the garden. It was a good book, but he wrote something that made me mad.  He despised folks who put a splash of yellow,  orange or red in the garden – in his opinion, they had absolutely no taste. His idea of a garden was a Japanese beauty, serene, understated, full of mossy greens, rocks, and running water, with perhaps a white lily floating in the pond for a punctuation mark. Minimalist. It sounds good, Patrick, but only for a visit. When it comes to our back yard, I’m not with you. Bring on the colour!

Colour and ambience are definitely different strokes for different folks. I wondered why some people adore brights, and others adore pastels, some love the English cottage look in a garden, and others go for Zen. So  I did a little research, and the findings surprised me. The preferences we’ve developed for colour are actually rooted in experiences we’ve had with those colours in our formative years, according to Psychology Today.

If I pursue that theory, I would trace my love for bright colours to a special day in my life. It’s a memory I’ve written about before: I was about 5 or 6, walking alone down a country road to the neighbour’s house. It was a gorgeous morning with the bluest sky, brilliant sunshine, yellow dandelions in the ditch, the maples and cornstalks in full green leaf. I have a distinct memory of feeling surrounded by something much bigger than I was, a loving presence, expressing herself in nature’s rich colours. The feeling was pure delight, so much so that I can recreate that day in my memory now, 65 years later. So maybe Patrick had a similar epiphany in a forest glade, and that has shaped his preference for green.

On another Saturday morning, when I was a bit older, I recall hopping on a bike and heading off alone to do a little explore. I biked towards the cemetery ... as I write this, I realize I must have been a bit weird when I was 10 or 11. Exploring alone? Biking to the cemetery? All I can say about that, is, back then, being alone and exploring the countryside was way more enticing than playing house with my peers. At any rate, it was another sunny morning, early in spring, and I was peddling along when I saw something that caused me to stop suddenly. The ditch was filled with bluebells, a bright splash of colour beside the grey pavement. It was another breath-stopping, wonder-filled moment. Such delight!

Now the garden is my opportunity to indulge my desire for splashes of vibrant colour that give  joy and delight. Occasionally I’ve toyed with the idea of having a colour-cued garden – only pale pinks and whites, with a hint of silver foliage, for instance, but I just can’t do it. I have to tuck a blue lobelia into that pot.

Yep, I added it to the bottom of the pot.
When that last red cabbage needs to be planted somewhere, I add its purplish leaves to the green herb bed, and maybe add a few orange nasturtiums because they’re so cheerfully full of life. The flowers that spring up  from seeds dropped in the fall – foxgloves, snapdragons, calendulas and sunflowers in totally uncoordinated colours – make my heart sing, even if they interrupt a row of beans or compete with the squash.
This pink volunteer foxglove has a mutant bloom at the top: it looks like a big bellflower.

As I noodle a bit more about this, I realize that my days come in colours, too. Grey and bluish grey days are when melancholy rears its dreary head. I don’t like them, but they are not as bad as black days, which thankfully are few and far between. Nor do I like the beige days, which are hum-drum, boring, and lethargic. Those are days to clean out the kitchen cupboards and put on a radio talk show. Lovely sky-blue days are serene and filled with contentment – good days for hanging out with friends and loved ones. I enjoy green and yellow days, which are fertile and thriving – you can actually get things done and feel satisfied as you tick things off your to-do list. Purple days are deep and emotional, rich but not always comfortable as I struggle with conflicting thoughts which need to be resolved. But my favourite days are red and orange, when the fires of creativity burn bright, and ideas come in bucket-fulls.

It’s been almost 5 years since I started this blog. I know the crow can’t squawk forever – but I’m wondering what might come next. The birthday clock is ticking a countdown to 70 – three-score and ten! –  and birthdays have always been a reminder to me to take stock and look forward.  I’ve had some grey and beige days as I consider options, but occasionally, green, yellow and red flash on the horizon. I’ll share more of that next week.

In the meantime, I wish you days filled with whatever colour your joy seeds come in! Be blessed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you! Bring on the colour!!!
    Thanks Jessie, for putting colours to days and words to my thoughts.