Have you ever noticed what a role color plays in our lives?
The question came up recently when someone said the color for Pentecost is red.
And there are other church colors.
But colors also run through many parts of our lives. For instance, we are said to be red with anger, green with envy, blue with being depressed on, black with despair, yellow with cowardice and purple with majesty.
There’s a song somewhere about “good old brown October,”
Red also can mean danger, and our traffic lights use red and green. Red and green also serve Christmas, gray is for something drab. White indicates purity. Fire is a blend of red and orange.
Sometimes color indicates identity.
Our valley fire departments are color coded. Omak’s is red, Okanogan’s white, Tonasket’s (I think) yellow and I think I’ve seen a green one somewhere. In a smoky situation this might help a man identify his own department’s trucks.
Once upon a time all railroad steam engines were black. Then came the diesels in a burst of yellow and green. Company colors? Don’t ask me. But the railroads did not stay with just those two colors. They used all of them (except, perhaps, pink).
They were not completely followed by the airlines. Paint weighs, and they had to watch that.
But cars were different and bloomed like the rainbow.
Step into wildlife and you have the whole rainbow, even with variations between certain branches of certain species. The scarlet tanager, for instance, in the Midwest is very different from the Western tanager, though both have the brilliant red head.
In the species, however, nature watched the matter of color. She did not want it to be a signal for predators, and the females are much more somber in their dress.
And with all kinds of species there is camouflage for the protection of females and chicks. The question of color and camouflage enters for protection.
In the matter of clothing – well, let’s not get into that one. But certain colors are appropriate for certain functions and serve a purpose there, too.
For plants we enter a whole new world. A weed, says an old saw, is a plant growing where someone doesn’t want it to. Yet a field of tightly packed dandelions is striking.
During the winter we get hungry for color and thus greet with joy the first spring flowers. I’m thinking of the first Red Emperor tulips. Beautiful!
So color serves many uses, from safety to beauty, and we tend to take them for granted. On a gray day we realize what we’re missing.
Is its brilliant color what has made the Red Delicious apple so popular? Who knows? But I find it easily the most handsome apple in the stores.
Color is used in many forms from attraction to protection, for species development. This is only the beginning of the story. Have fun carrying it on.
Color – useful and beautiful. I’m grateful for it in all its manifestations.
Elizabeth Widel is a columnist for The Chronicle. This is the 2,892nd column in a series. She may be reached at 509-826-1110.