A Touch of Blue


photoJoy has a funny way of residing in our hearts: it’s never completely untouched by sorrow or the knowledge of trials and struggles. It requires a measure of trouble, in fact, for joy to exist. How else can we begin to know and appreciate the depth and breadth of true joy?

I was reminded of this today by one of my little hummingbird friends. They are frequently identified, these tiny flying powerhouses, as being most strongly attracted to red flora, to bright red and orange and sometimes yellow flowers. But they’re not that exclusive, really. They are aggressive and territorial and mercurial, all colors we tend to happily equate with so-called ‘hot’ colors, of course, but it hardly proves that red flowers are actually the best available attractants for hummingbirds.photo

The hummingbirds that hang around my back patio have other ideas. Not least of all, that their pleasure, and their urge to imbibe a grand zing of energy-booster, can come from what is presently their very favorite treat back there: the blue-blooming sage. It’s a hot color too, that it is; the blossoms on the lovely Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ practically scream for attention from amid the bold lime-green foliage of the plant, so nobody with a modicum of visual acuity, hummingbird or human or otherwise, is going to buzz by without giving it a good, longing look of admiration.

With what do we credit the boldest of blues? ‘Cool’, we call them. But just like the wildest, hottest of reds and yellows and oranges, intense blues are attention grabbers. They grip us by the heart just as easily as any other high-hued beauties. But the existence of both is necessary for us to understand the differences between them, and the power each has. Is ‘cool’ the metaphor for melancholy and The Blues a name for sorrow? Perhaps. Are red and those other ‘hot’ colors present in warming flames, in sunlight, in the brilliance of joy? Possibly.

Do all of them enrich our lives? Absolutely. Ask a hummingbird.photo


All the Colors


When we speak of something having ‘all the colors of the rainbow’ I am certain we don’t quite understand the enormity of such a thing. My sisters and I used to criticize badly designed or tasteless clothing, interiors and the like as being so artificial and clumsy because they were of a ‘color not found in nature’–but then, too, our thinking was far too constrained. For nature, that queen of design, has more colors than can be perceived, let alone understood, by mere human eyes and minds.

She’s a trickster and a lavishly opulent over-doer, is Nature. We are much too small to comprehend the fulness of her range and beauty. What seems like one rather simple thing at first often morphs, as we look and imagine further, into something far different and most likely far more subtle and complex.

I was reminded of this last night when I sat down with a new set of children’s marking pens–the cheap permeable-tip markers that last for about five drawings but cost a tenth of what the ‘professional’ pens do–and began to sketch something leafy. As soon as I began I knew that one kind of green would not make a leaf; no, I knew that all four kinds of green supplied by the manufacturer of this little bag-of-pens couldn’t begin to be sufficient to convey the character of the simplest, plainest sort of leaf-like thing, let alone give a hint of the way light might play across it in different climes, at different times of day. Or how much its appearance must be affected by my own vision, my mood, my expectations.

Our abilities to envision, physical and metaphorical both, are fluid but can never quite keep up with the mysteries around us. And that, my friends, is a fine excuse for forging ahead into the puzzling and problematic and pearlescent thing that is the future . . . .

colored markers on paper

How It Works

In Haiku,

Reality takes

Sudden swerves