Green: Of Monsters and Men
When I was in first grade, we were given mimeographed sheets (look it up, kids) to color. They had rows of small images, like comic strips, filled with simple outlines–a house, grass, an improbable spiky sun. Below the images were empty dashes where we would write in the name of the object and then color it in.
Whether or not my parents truly had favorite colors, I assuredly had bugged them until they both claimed one for me. My mother said blue was her favorite, and my father reported a fondness for green.
When I took out my bright Crayolas–how I loved those crayons, especially the breathtaking tiered assortments which came in boxes with a built-in sharpener–I was obsessively careful to be fair. With mathematical precision I would parcel out an equal amount of blue and green as I meticulously filled in shapes.
Fairness can be a simple for a five-year-old.
For Elphaba and Kermit, it was not always easy being green, but all its shades remain a glowing, growing wonder for me.
It happened that on our very first date in college, Jim wore a hunter green button-down shirt, and I wore cobalt blue silk. I have a curiously acute memory for fabric.
When I went out today to capture images of green, I was drawn to interiors–to the soft cotton fabrics with which I nested, creating quilts for our children-to-be; to bright emerald silk like the precious yardage my daughter brought me from India; to the ribbons Jim and I would use to wrap gifts well into the wee hours of Christmases past as our children slept and we gamely attempted to assist Santa.
But when I think of Jim’s greens, they overwhelmingly tend towards the outdoors: the brilliant green of those pre-incarnadine multitudinous seas, the diamond at Fenway Park, the solemn gray-green Solitario Jorge.
Together, somehow, Jim and I forged a marriage that–were I prone to bouts of synesthesia–was of deep greens and blues.
Green speaks to me of Jim–the Scout leader, the outdoorsman, the nature lover. His eyes, especially as they looked at me during the months he knew would be our last here together. Shagging flies on the Green Monster. Hiking in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Walking hand-in-hand around the Emerald Necklace. Holding our youngest infant’s tiny hands and gently guiding them through the sleeves of a mint-green sweater knitted by her grandmother. The shiny Boston Celtics-green wrapping paper on what he knew would be the last present he gave me.
The Lime-Tree Bower
For one Christmas soon after we moved to my husband Jim’s ideal home, over the course of many weeks I painted for him a large bowl. On the underside is a deep green-blue sea filled with cetaceans (I would not know my porpoises from my whales without having been educated by my children when they were young) and anglerfish, seaweed and coral.
Inside the bowl is a dove-topped ark crammed with pairs of animals no doubt ready to start families of their own.
Circling the rim is a snippet of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ode to the sea:
The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
Today I happened across another Coleridge poem that poetically dovetails with the sentiment I tried to express about now taking in the world for both of us–both the natural world and events which inexorably go on.