This last week in New Jersey was especially gray. Maybe it was the promise by weathermen of a nice week for January that never happened or the misty, foggy days that did occur – but as the week progressed it seemed as though New Jersey was desaturating before my eyes. Color was draining away, leaching down in the ground and into culverts to a decolorizing processing center.
Friends sent pictures on Facebook of Florida dawns streaked in reds and oranges over multihued blue skies, of New Hampshire’s pure white snowfall, and of California’s bright blue skies and sparkling beaches. Did they post them to make me less depressed or was it to make me jealous of their beautiful canvases.
Each morning I would wake to the dark, as the hours progressed the sky gradually lightened until 3 o’clock in the afternoon, then darkened again as evening approached. It reminded me of a gray scale value chart, the mid-range color was “Cement,” followed closely by “Oatmeal.”
Driving up and down Route 18 there were wooded areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy. The color of the woods a neutral gray touched in brown, the ground a wet compost black. Even the evergreen firs were stripped of the rich greens associated with Christmas trees and garland. Drab, dirty green next to drab, dirty brown, with the pavement of the road that ran alongside a drab, dirty gray.
February/March gray came early this year. Some people can’t take it and escape to the islands or to the southern states and wear bright colors like tropical birds – yellow greens, turquoise, hot reds and oranges. While back home people trudge through rainy, misty days wearing black, navy, gray and taupe. Even red disappears after the holidays, except for the occasional male cardinal who knows where to perch to show off his fine color.
When the doldrums of winter hit I’m always reminded of Persephone in the underworld. She is in a place so deep that the sun’s light cannot color her surroundings. I remember she will soon begin her journey upward to visit her mother, Demeter. As she ascends color comes back to the earth.
I miss all color in winter when the blue sky leadens in gray overcast. The color I long to see is yellow green. The time I want to witness most is that magical moment when the willow bark changes color and New Jersey transitions from its grayest brown to pin points of yellow green. The forsythias florescence in yellow, the first spring rain washes the winter drab away to reveal lush new green; and before you know for certain that winter is gone, the land is bright in a crescendo of color. But for now, I wait in anticipation of the green.