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.



A Father’s Day Toast

One of my daughters had to explain to me the frequent appearance of Jim’s left hand–the one with the ring divet–among photographs he took from mountain tops: it was how he set up contiguous shots to form a panorama

My electronic inbox overflows with entreaties to make Father’s Day purchases at deep discounts.  Shopping is not on my mind.

Even my reliably soothing farm game saddens me with a “Father’s Day Quest” in which a brown-eyed, raven-haired girl pops up with bubbles of text recalling what her father has taught her, like looking at stars through a telescope and how to drive.  (It was I who had to ride shotgun for all of those hours with the daughter who just got her license.)

Last Father’s Day, not long after Jim’s death, I took the children who were home with me on the kind of family hike Jim frequently took with us.  He would clamber with his long stride up a mountain with our youngest jabbering musically in a baby carrier on his shoulders as the other three zig-zagged ahead, happily crying out “This way!” when they spotted the painted triangles which marked the trails.

Clusters of us would link and unlink  hands, helping each other over boulders and down slippery stretches.  Jim, who always carried the lion’s share of the weight, though it never seemed to burden him, would dole out water bottles and other supplies.  Small hands would grab fists full of his special gorp mixture.  (Despite the seemingly indiscriminate grabbing, the M & Ms and cashews always would go first.)

Of course this time, without Jim, I got us a little bit lost on the way up to the trail head.

When we finally arrived, all the trails we ordinarily took were obstructed by fallen trees, casualties of catastrophic spring storms.

One of Jim’s many photographs in deep greens and crystalline blues
(c) 2010 Jim Glennon

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