Yesterday, I strolled through a market in Carrboro, NC, visiting friends on the last arc of a three-week trip to the east coast. I quickly became obsessed with the colors of summer’s bounty, perhaps to the quiet embarrassment of the 11-year-old who graciously accompanied me. Yet piled upon folding tables, the rainbow of fruits and vegetables demanded my attention, and I joyously snapped pictures, taking only a casual pause here and there to sample the wares and actually make a purchase or two.
As I darted from one farmer’s stand to the next, I found myself marveling at the array of colors offered by the heat and sun of this season. Nature throws together combinations of colors that would never occur to me to put next to each other.
The magic of color is something I think about fairly often. I don’t understand how it all happens, and don’t want to; I’m amazed by artists like my brother, who undertake the monumental task of capturing color and how it changes. My contribution to the world, in this way, is simply as an observer. On a pretty regular basis, I stop in my tracks to marvel at, say, a trove of hydrangeas in that blue-purple that never exists quite as well outside of nature, or the way that wild grasses transform with the movement of a breeze.
I think of it – and yes, I know this is cheesy – as a gift that nature offers to us, every day, without fail, even when it’s gray and rainy outside. The surprise of a sudden burst of color against a monochromatic background reminds me to be present, and to be grateful. It almost always brightens my spirit: the world is alive and laughing.
Want to see what I mean? Try it yourself. Head outside. Notice your world.
After a minute or two, focus in on the colors. How many shades of green are on a single tree? Is the sky heavy with dark clouds or wide open and clear blue? What about the flowers: are they tropical pinks and oranges, wistful pastels, optimistic yellows? Notice the cars, the houses, the buildings, the park benches, the cautionary signs, the glimpse of your own skin as you glance to your feet, perhaps clad in some color shoe or another. As you look around, let yourself be in awe of the world, of all these hues nuzzling up against one another. Can you even count them?
It’s daunting and wonderful to try and capture each and every shade that can exist in a single snapshot of life.
For my part: I glance out my window, somewhere on the flight between North Carolina and California, and see bright, white clouds below me, interrupted by an oozing blue that fills in every last crevice.
Perhaps people on the ground below this plane are planning for rain; up here, though, we’ve got clear skies ahead. I can’t really imagine what I’ll see when we land; I know that the world will be waiting, offering up its beauty and asking me, only, to take notice, pay attention, and enjoy.
And that’s a challenge I can gratefully accept.