All eyes in Maine are very hungry for color right now. Our souls know the difference between manmade colors in fabric and paint and the real deal from Mother Nature. But it’s early spring, and while the rest of the country might be bursting forth with greenery and colorful flowers, Maine sits in limbo. Mother Nature cannot be begged or bribed, but at this same time last year, we were still completely buried in snow, so I won’t complain.
Still, my eyes are hungry for color, and I can find it if I look hard enough. Of course, we have the green of pine trees everywhere, which while boring in the summer, suddenly becomes very endearing in the winter and early spring. It’s funny how that happens. Plain Jane becomes a siren under the right conditions. What we once ignored now captivates us.
Just look at this red twig dogwood that surrounds a good portion of the river. The brilliant red color is astounding--no Plain Jane here. It almost seems a shame for it to grow any green leaves when it looks so festive completely bare. Perhaps leaves are highly overrated. And it’s “real” color, which makes it that much more comforting. The rule, however, is that no cardinals are allowed to perch in it since the red of the twigs would wash their beautiful red feathers out. Now, the blue jays are more than welcome amid the red twigs to provide dramatic contrast, but being the narcissists that they are, they never listen to me.
Sometimes I wonder if our eyes are just too bombarded with color all the time. It’s so easy to miss the pretty colors of nature--even at this time of year--when your eyes are constantly saturated in color. I would imagine this is unprecedented for most of mankind’s history. Natural dyes for fabrics from the plant world as well as Mother Nature’s cyclical display was all people had. Maybe that was enough.
There’s a certain honesty at least in all the bareness. Nothing can be hidden and there’s no need for pretense. What you see is what you get. When the greenery comes, while it is beautiful to be sure, it also demands to be the center of attention, as all children do. Then all of the beautiful things I look at now--the pines, the red twig dogwood, the holly, etc.--will quietly tiptoe back into the corner to be Plain Jane once again.
But I think Jane is beautiful.