One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Craving Alizarin Crimson

The Holidays are over. The decorations have been taken down and stored away until next year. Shopping frenzies are (hopefully) done with. For the most part, New Year’s resolutions have been made and many already broken. (Daily meditation practice? It was a good thought at the time. Same with sticking to one glass of wine with dinner…)

Now it’s just winter and much of the Northern hemisphere is cold—very cold. Freezingly icily cold.

But not here in the Bay Area where we had some rain last month (hooray!) and a coldish spell—a week of lows in the high forties and high’s in the mid-fifties, but then it cleared up and warmed up. It’s been nearly seventy degrees some days. That’s warmer than the average day here in June and July when you often don’t see the sun for weeks!

While robins, finches and nuthatches remain in residence and Angel’s Trumpet, jasmine and bougainvillea continue to bloom, many of us here is the Bay Area still try to perform some kind of ritual that reminds us it’s winter. We like being different, but not left out—who wants to be left out of a whole season? So we build fires (if we’re lucky enough to have a fireplace and it’s not a spare-the-air day.) At my house, we put our flannel sheets on the bed and keep them on until April despite often being too warm in our unheated bedroom. Our dinner menu is made up of soups and stews—hearty winter fare. I would no more think of making a salad nicoise in January than I would think of making Irish stew in July. It just wouldn’t be right.

But still, there is something else that tells us San Franciscans that it’s Winter—the short days (getting longer now) and low angle of the sun (moving slightly higher every day) speak to a natural rhythmic cycle all living things have—it seems to be the same whispering that sends some creatures into hibernation. I feel the nudging to be quieter, more introspective, more interior, don’t you?

The other thing I always feel this time of year is a craving for color—deep, rich, muted color—alizarin crimson, inky Prussian blue, silky golden ochre, dark saturated plum, velvety moss green. Every January I dream about these colors. It’s not as if the world outside my window is drab and barren—aside from a few leafless trees in solidarity with the rest of the frozen country, it’s more of an unseen impression. Maybe it’s a reaction to all the garishly bright reds and greens of Christmas or maybe it’s some kind of archetypal echo from the royal robes of the three kings, but I think it has more to do with the sense that January is a blank page just waiting to be filled in—with words, with images, with color. This blank page of January is an invitation to begin. Something new.

So I’m getting ready to start filling that blank page. Last week I went out and bought some new Prismacolor colored pencils, ordered a rich rainbow of recycled sari silk ribbon and signed up for a poetry class. I’ll be drawing, writing poems and stringing glass beads onto silk ribbon for the next few months.

John Ruskin said, “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color most.” Do you suppose he included himself in that mindset? I don’t know—it’s a lot to claim and live up to…

It’s easier to lay claim to Paul Klee’s quote, that, “Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet.”

How will you meet the universe? What will you do with your blank page?

Happy New Year!

Take Good Care,



  1. Agreed! I too have been craving the idea of making something pretty (and colorful). Can't wait to see your page all colored in.

  2. Thanks, Sharry. I even loved seeing the colors in this blog post!