wordless wednesday with words

This is a picture of *a room lit yellow, which may appear orange, which forces me to tell both an orange story and a yellow one.


I love everything about orange, the vibrancy of the colour, the spelling and sound of the word — it sounds awake  — and the smell of orange blossoms and how that orange tasted right off the tree that time a thousand years ago in Florida and how avocados grew nearby and the way Florida grass feels on bare feet, different than our grass, and the rain that day, coming down so hard I wanted to cancel our flight but the Florida people said don’t worry, it never lasts, and it didn’t, and the tangerine tree near the avocado one and the dear Peruvian woman who picked a bagful of tangerines and ate them as she walked home while the Florida people clucked their tongues and said they were too full of seeds.


I am nine or maybe seven. I am in my room when the door slams open and my dad stands there in his Hawaiian shirt, a Sweet Caporal between his lips, the smoke making him squint as he yells What’s your favourite colour???? and the volume and intensity of the question, the shirt, the smoke, the squinting, it unsettles me, terrifies me a little if one can be only slightly terrified, and I’m not ready with an answer and I can see that he’s expecting one quickly. He is not a man who likes to wait around for things when he’s wearing his Hawaiian shirt because that means he’s working at something in the house or the yard and is in no mood for dawdling. I can barely think of ANY colour much less my favourite. Do I have a favourite? Yellow, I say, and then he leaves (goes to Canadian Tire as it turns out) and returns with a gallon of paint and before you know it the walls of my room (and the ceiling) are canary yellow and before long so is my toothbrush and a new pair of slippers and jeans and pyjamas and it feels like every gift I’m ever given from that moment on is yellow. It’s only when I move into my own place that I can avoid yellow and I avoid it for decades, including being the yellow piece in board games. And then one day it stops. And, along with orange (and turquoise and green), it becomes my actual favourite colour.


* The yellow room is an installation (by Kosisochukwu Nnebe) at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, currently part of an exhibition called ‘Made of Honey, Gold and Marigold’.



today’s colour


I haven’t posted any Today’s Colour for a while. Just haven’t been seeing things that way recently, but the other day, walking downtown for some breakfast, I notice freshly painted yellow lines in a parking lot. And in between those lines, a bright yellow car.

I take a picture but without a chip as it turns out. And so there’s no proof of anything.

Not of the lines or the car or the bright yellow hydrant nearby. Not even the mysterious metal pole next to it, in exactly the same shade.

Also no picture of the large yellow plastic bin on the porch of what used to be the town’s main library—a lovely Carnegie one—which is now home to a legal firm. Maybe the box is where you deposit gratuities. Or bribes. Or suggestions, delicately, or not so delicately, phrased.

There is no picture of the bag of salt resting in the doorway of a convenience store.

Today’s colour comes, instead, with a story. The Story of Yellow. Which begins in my bedroom when I was about seven or eight years old. Maybe I was four or five. Young enough anyway not to know what my favourite colour was when my dad suddenly appeared at my door hollering What’s your favourite colour??

Um….. um….

Welll???  (veins beginning to pop in his neck)

Yellow? (I have no idea why I said yellow.)

Turns out he was on his way to Canadian Tire.

The next thing I remember is my entire bedroom—four walls AND the ceiling—painted lemon yellow.

After that I was given yellow sweaters as gifts. A yellow sippy cup (so I guess I was younger than eight; we can only hope…), yellow toothbrush, hairbrush, bath towel, bathing suit. My first pair of jeans were yellow.

I grew up hating that colour. When I left home I turned my back on it, refused to be the yellow piece in a board game.

Then one day I came home to visit my mum and dad and my room had been wallpapered with pink and red roses. The ceiling was white. It was hideous and I loved it.

On a weekend in nineteen ninety something I painted the kitchen of my house yellow. The irony of this didn’t even register. The yellow tablecloth my mother had given me years ago, which I’d never used, I suddenly loved. I bought yellow tea towels, yellow bowls. I painted all the bedrooms various shades of pale pale jaune.

I have no idea what changed. I only know that it no longer bothers me to be the yellow piece in a board game.

Though if I had the choice, I’d probably pick orange.


Pick a colour, any colour…


today’s colour

I wasn’t going to do another colour so soon but it’s the last day of summer and wandering about the garden just now, in that beautiful early evening light—the yellows just stood up and shouted to be noticed. Everything seems suddenly golden in a way that’s not yet Fall but also like nothing you ever get in July or August (when ‘yellow’ can sometimes be too ‘hot’ to like much).

Wisteria leaves, just beginning to turn.
Black-Eyed Susans all over the place!
Last of the zucchini…
Someone’s been having hosta for dinner…
Goldenrod, starting to fade
Bye summer…