Especially in deep winter, one sometimes needs at least a splash of orange. Summer sun echoed in the orb of a buoy on a frozen sea. A brief blinding illumination as a setting sun hits evergreens in a sea of crystalline snow. Robins clinging to empty branches. Papery roses imported from a much warmer climate.
Perhaps no other solitary figure has exhibited such anthropomorphic angst at the absence of orange as did Lorca’s Barren Orange Tree, robbed of its very identity:
“Woodcutter. Cut my shadow from me. Free me from the torment of seeing myself without fruit.”
Something in the color orange is inherently merry. It shouts; it commands our attention. In its vividness and expressiveness it seems to be the youngest child of the color spectrum.
A dash of it goes a long way.
A horizon of orange–blazing, rusty, saturated or more subdued–reassures me that what’s beyond my sight cannot possibly be nothing but black.
But sometimes the transition between day and night is unmistakable.
The day may fade into ho-hum waves of gray-blue, but—just as one is tempted to look away–the horizon can blaze back in a band of coral and lavender before settling in for the night. Or a city might surprise us by bathing a building or bridge in startling new colors.
Texture can be a feast for the eyes as well as for the sense of touch.
At a Farmers’ Market this weekend, bright clumps of wool were encased in looped ivy branches. They hung overhead like oversized Christmas tree ornaments. Summer sun elided their edges to a dazzling white that was one with the sky.
In Modern English‘s “I Melt With You,” mesh and lace is the textural equivalent of the rainbow’s edge: all else in the world is but a veiled, decorative backdrop to the song’s human object:
“I saw the world thrashing all around your face Never really knowing it was always mesh and lace”
On the opposite end of the textural spectrum is the Biblical anguish conjured by images of flesh bound with tenacious ivy and bristly twine.
Another kind of love song entirely.
The person who melted away in Modern English’s song–the singular stark human reality against a filmy lattice of a universe–seems to have departed before the beginning lyrics of Mumford & Sons’ “Below My Feet“:
“You were cold as the blood through your bones And the light which led us from our chosen homes Well I was lost
And now I sleep, Sleep the hours that I can’t weep When all I knew was steeped in blackened holes Well I was lost . . . .