Winter and the Balm of Color and Light

I recognized the effects of color one winter when I bought a bag of lemons–before they were priced out of my league. I had them in a bowl in the kitchen, and I noticed that I was drawn to keep looking over at them. The little shock of glossy yellow was comforting. I got a similar effect from a heap of limes and tomatoes I purchased for salsa, chili, and spaghetti ingredients. My groceries were doing double duty as medicine for the soul.

I observed something else during the drab, frozen days when darkness closed in before five and a bleary dawn held off until almost nine the next morning. Movies I watched piecemeal on the treadmill were a real mood lifter. Even a few minutes of absorption in a drama not my own made a difference. Of course watching movies was a far more sophisticated solution than buying a bag of fruit. But viewing life in faraway places–where the sun always shone, a gentle breeze ruffled lovely dresses, green lawns stretched alluringly, ladies took walks in rose gardens, and characters conferred under trees where the light through the foliage made fretted patterns in the grass–had healing properties that made me glad for the technology that provided luxurious escape.

I saw, too, that a simple photo could hold my attention a little longer than was wonted in non-winter seasons. Pictures online of San Diego’s Balboa Park under blue skies, palm trees with ocean backdrop, a zoo excursion that I could tell took place on a glittering, balmy day, all filled me with longing and yet were strangely soothing.

My bright, pine-ceilinged dining room, when the colors of the curtains were still crisp and we displayed the custom stonework to good effect, was a source of comfort. Each stroke of color, gentle or bold, gave me a corresponding lift when I looked at it. Today I was able to find photographic evidence to share with you. The first picture shows the room at its best, on a rare sunny day. Even the vintage glass fire extinguisher still speaks to me in its sharp red tones. The second photo captures a variegated bouquet of autumn leaves I had gathered before ten days of winter weather had set in. I still see why I wanted it on my kitchen table, why I photographed it, and why I shared the picture with friends. Even one vase of natural colors can stave off winter’s discontent.

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9 thoughts on “Winter and the Balm of Color and Light”

  1. Beautiful photos which speak, to me, anyway, of the serenity of the soul which created and appreciated these interior landscapes.

    i thought from the title, though, that this might be about the colors of winter itself.  We’ve had a thaw here in the last few days, and rain.  The dried field grass is beaten flat, gold.  The red of the bare blueberry bushes, the red of the jack pines’ flaky bark.  The dull powdery purple of the bare forest canopy, as though its veins were showing through.
    And I’ve written before about how black, ink-black, the water of streams and rivulets  looks against the snow, how dark the pines. A military verdigris fustian.
    There’s a line from some novel I read ages ago, someone looks at a field of wildflowers  and says, if anyone from another planet visited Earth, they’d think we must be mad with joy, to have such things about us!
    I am “mad with joy” about the colors of winter, inside and out.  Thanks, Sawatdeeka!

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  2. sawatdeeka:
    Even the vintage glass fire extinguisher still speaks to me in its sharp red tones.

    Is that one of those glass bulbs filled with carbon tetrachloride that you were supposed to throw at a fire to extinguish it?  We used to have those in our barn, and I always wondered how well they actually worked (fortunately, I never found out).  I don’t think I’ve seen one in more than fifty years.

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  3. John Walker:

    sawatdeeka:
    Even the vintage glass fire extinguisher still speaks to me in its sharp red tones.

    Is that one of those glass bulbs filled with carbon tetrachloride that you were supposed to throw at a fire to extinguish it?  We used to have those in our barn, and I always wondered how well they actually worked (fortunately, I never found out).  I don’t think I’ve seen one in more than fifty years.

    Probably. I have heard that it is dangerous to inhale.

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  4. EThompson:
    Your house looks quite charming. If you get the chance, we’d love to see more!

    Thank you! This was awhile back. It needs some TLC right now. But if I find some more pictures, I will share. This is actually the most original and interesting part of the house to me. Most of it is conventional.

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  5. Hypatia:
    Beautiful photos which speak, to me, anyway, of the serenity of the soul which created and appreciated these interior landscapes.

    i thought from the title, though, that this might be about the colors of winter itself.  We’ve had a thaw here in the last few days, and rain.  The dried field grass is beaten flat, gold.  The red of the bare blueberry bushes, the red of the jack pines’ flaky bark.  The dull powdery purple of the bare forest canopy, as though its veins were showing through.
    And I’ve written before about how black, ink-black, the water of streams and rivulets  looks against the snow, how dark the pines. A military verdigris fustian.
    There’s a line from some novel I read ages ago, someone looks at a field of wildflowers  and says, if anyone from another planet visited Earth, they’d think we must be mad with joy, to have such things about us!
    I am “mad with joy” about the colors of winter, inside and out.  Thanks, Sawatdeeka!

    Thank you, Hypatia. Beautiful writing. However, it’s the outdoor colors of winter I need to escape. Over time, the drabness gets to me.

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  6. sawatdeeka:
    Thank you, Hypatia. Beautiful writing. However, it’s the outdoor colors of winter I need to escape. Over time, the drabness gets to me.

    I hear that! This is my first time in a “northern” climate in decades and I keep asking my gardener: “Is there something wrong with that tree? It’s lost its leaves.” 🙂

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