The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Sunday, October 09, 2011

To Boldly Glow

Will you wear orange, my dear oh dear,
And will you wear orange, Jenny Jenkins?
No, orange I won't wear, and it rhymes, so there!

Jenny wasn't alone in her antipathy. According to a study, orange is one of the least popular of hues. Observe the pie:

White, grey, and brown are disliked even more than orange, which isn't surprising; they seem to be most preferred by monks and winter. Still, I can't understand the animus toward orange, because to me it embodies optimism. It paints the hope of sunrise and the promise of sunset. It's the standout color of this my favorite month, figuring in pumpkins (away with those trendy pasty ones!), gourds, squash, and blazing leaves. It's wonderful to have such a gorgeous glut of the hue, braving the barren onset of November.

Some of my leaves from yesteryear.

Red and yellow, which combine to form my beloved color, 
can be a bit trying on their own.

 Then again, they can be stunningly splendid. 
(For more examples of uchikake, see my blog post Imperial Opulence.)
I'm always wary of "What your favorite color says about you" articles because they tend to over-accentuate the positive, and sweetly assure you that you're introspective and outspoken rather than narcissistic and obnoxious. However, one analysis that I came across the other day seemed eerily spot on:

"Orange: This color of luxury and pleasure appeals to the flamboyant and fun-loving person who likes a lively social round. Orange people may be inclined to dramatize a bit, and people notice them, but they are generally good-natured and popular. They can be a little fickle and vacillating, but on the whole they try hard to be agreeable. Orange is the color of youth, strength, fearlessness, curiosity and restlessness."

A decade ago I'd have agreed entirely with that assessment, but I've become reclusive since then for reasons that I hope will prove temporary, and my patience is mightily strained at times. Still, in my heart and in my writing, the traits described are still very much alive, although the passage of time has made me prefer the darker shades like cinnabar, persimmon, and (most apropos) bittersweet.

Another color I've become fond of is the deep purple I associate with wine, but which is more often called maroon. It's a popular color in India for bridal saris, perhaps because it's both regal and restrained.

I didn't quite know what motivated my affection, but the article previously cited had some answers:

"Harsh experience has probably matured the Maroon person into someone likable and generous. It is often a favorite color of someone who has been battered by life but has come through. It indicates a well-disciplined Red personality—one who has had difficult experiences and has not come through unmarked but who has grown and matured in the process."

The hesitant prophecy of the first sentence is, I hope, true in my case; the other conditions certainly seem to fit. When I look back on my writing--I recently unearthed a trove of stuff written in my teens that I'd entirely forgotten about, with mostly good reason--I'd have to agree that what I'm now working on is rich in the fruits of experience. It's not purple prose, but definitely autumnal. Most of my short fiction is set in the fall, a time of reflection, meditation, and harvest. Ripeness really is all.



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