Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Ode to Brown

"God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer."
Anne Sexton

In the past Dad has encouraged me to write by doing an exercise his high school English teacher assigned him. The only requirement is to write about what you see outside your window. On any given day, I doubt I'd see more than the oak tree that's been there longer than I can remember, or the weeds in the flower bed or the hand trowel I left on the window sill three months ago when I was in an unaccustomed fit of de-vining whatever it was that was strangling the Holly bushes.
The exercise, like any, is meant to stretch unused muscles. In this case, my imagination and vision, not my biceps or hamstrings. I tend to write more about what I do than what I see. However, if I expand the original directions to describe what I see right outside the garage door, I could tell you about this perfectly lovely orchid plant that amazes me every year.
The plant starts getting buds on it about the time that the Florida weather begins to cool off. In more northern climes, daffodill and tulip buds would be settling in for the long winter's nap that prepares them for Spring blooming. I don't usually think of orchids being a cold weather plant. But then, to be honest, I don't usually think of orchid plants at all, unless I happen to walk past one and stop to admire it's simple beauty.
I believe this particular orchid was sent as a gift several years ago. After it had finished blooming, it was put outside and basically forgotten about. Perhaps some orchids are hot house prima donnas, but not this particular bloom. It soaks up the sun and the rain and the oak blossoms and the acorns - whatever happens to fall on it's unimpressive green leaves. Throughout the year the orchid, in its original plastic pot (we have only transplanted it once which may speak to its heartiness as horticulture is not at the top of my accomplishments), sits inconspicuoulsy among the azaleas, amarylises and day lillies. Its long leaves provide hiding places for the lizards that call our front yard home.

On the rare occasion that a cold frost approaches, and the temperatures threaten to drop below freezing, the pot is heaved up out of its leafy domain and carried into the garage for protection from the frost. Other than that, with the possible exception of a sprinkling of all-purpose fertilzer once a year, the delicate oriental plant is given no special treatment.
Yet, like I said, every year about this time, it produces these exquisite brown flowers. Brown? Whoever heard of a brown flower? Well, maybe it's more of a purplish browny combo. With so many other colors for God to use when creating flowers, one has got to wonder what He was thinking when He made this particular orchid. [Photo L: My photography skills never do the flower justice.]
This got me to contemplating about the color brown. Except for my daughter, I'm not sure if I've ever known anyone who would answer the question, "what is your favorite color?" with an enthusiastic "BROWN!"
According to the sensational color website*, brown says "stability, reliability, and approachability. It is the color of our earth and is associated with all things natural or organic. " The website also tells us that brown "supplies a feeling of wholesomeness, stabilizes, provides a connection with the earth, and gives a sense orderliness. "
Personally, when I think of brown, the first thing I think of is poop. Maybe that says more about me than it does the color! I think I'm going to make a list pretty brown things and see if I can change my brown-challenged world view. Here goes:
1. Well, naturally a seven layer chocolate cake would have to start the list. In fact, chocolate could not only start, but end the list. Need I say more?
2. Well worn, fur lined slippers are brown and make me feel kind of homey
3. As would the worn brown leather binding of a favorite book
4. Brown puppies (actually any kind of puppy, but a chocolate lab is too cute for words)
5. Brown rice
6. Brown wool sweaters
7. Dark brown eyes that speak louder than words
8. The trunks of trees so tall you can't see the leaves
9. Teddy bears
10.Old fashioned flight jackets
11. Fried chicken or Thanksgiving turkey, browned to perfection
12. Peanut butter
13. Mud puddles (see previous post)
14. Baby bunnies, deer and koala bears
15. Snickers, Three Muskateers, Kit Kat bars
16. Gingerbread men
17. Brown quilts [Photo L: Recent quilt I made for Josh and Jessi]
18. A pile of brown, crunchy, loamy smelling Autumn leaves
19. Mike Rowe covered in something dirty and smelly [let's face it, Mike Rowe is the only person I know who can stand inside a sewer covered from head to toe in sewer detritus and still look good!]
20. A big glass of cold iced tea
21. Almonds, walnuts and pecans
22. The smell of nutmeg
[It must be getting close to dinnertime. I see that my list is predominately about brown food!]
Every time I walk past it, I smile at the beauty and tenacity of this orchid. If there is meaning to be found here it has to be along the lines of "Bloom where you are planted" and/or "be all you can be... even if you don't feel like the prettiest color in the Crayola box."
Wishing you all the colors of the rainbow,
Merry ME

P.S. The paragraph spacing on this post is all screwed up and I don't have a clue how to fix it. I've tried the backspace key, deleting spaces, tabbing in and still the new paragraph starts where it feels like it. I give up!



Anonymous said...

Well, m'dear,I am a huge fan of this post! Brown. Brown. Brown goodness! I'll add to your list:

- cute girl ducks.
- iced tea! (it deserves to be mentioned twice.)
- hot tea!
- Halle Berry's mocha-colored skin. Human perfection.
- a beautiful dirt path. where o where will it go.
- squirrels.
- a magnificent brown chicken.
-hey, did i say tea? say it again. okay, i will. Tea!


Merry ME said...

I agree, a perfectly brewed cup of tea is the most delightful shade of brown.

And what about brown eggs? Or a long brown horse's mane?

I have to admit, I feel my brown prejudices disappearing.

Anonymous said...

>I have to admit, I feel my brown prejudices disappearing.

As they should.


Anti Jen said...

I used to hate brown when I was growing up. It seemed my whole life was brown. Brown hair, brown eyes, brown house, brown car... we even had a neighbor we called the brown car lady (but we liked her - she painted our toe nails and gave us candy). Now I too have grown to embrace the color. Kudos for giving this sturdy stand by its due.