50 Shades of Green
Sunday June 20th was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and the official change from spring into summer. Although humans have been locked down in various stages over the past year and a half, Mother Nature was never under quarantine. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is a riot of color as almost every bush, and many trees, flower. The beauty of these blooms in every color is a wonder to behold. Pink, red, purple, white, yellow, orange, and all of the shades in between. But there is one color that dominates the entire spectrum in the Evergreen state: green. Green of every shade and hue, growing side by side, high and low. Green, lush green, is the promise of spring, and the bounty of so much. Green is the color of abundance, good fortune, and growth. The smallest buds can burst into a forest of green. It is the perfect backdrop to all of the colors nature has to offer. Mother Nature is a natural!
The color green is used often in the English language to describe much more than trees and grass. A person with no experience is referred to as green behind the ears. If one is not feeling well, it can be said they are looking green. We often compare jealousy as the grass being greener in our neighbor’s yard. And then there is the most insidious of descriptions; green with envy. Envy is a very greedy vice that can eat you from the inside out, yet is is so ingrained in the human experience that I have never met a person who hasn’t experienced it at some point in their life.
What is it that makes whatever the other person is having, wearing, dating, traveling to, or from, or experiencing, so enticing that our own experience pale in comparison? Maybe that’s why green is equated with envy. That deep, dark, vivid, alive color can intimidate even the best of the color palette. Why does the green-eyed monster grab us and whisper that who we are, and what we have, or have not, done is not good enough? That shade of green can make you doubt yourself. It can make you unhappy, dissatisfied and restless. It can be a sad state of affairs.
Green is also the way many of us are striving to live after decades of taking advantage of the bounty Earth offers. Living green means more harmony with the earth, minimizing our carbon footprint, recycling, respecting nature, working to clean the air and water. Not all are on board with this. Greed, the green eyed monster in the form of money, tends to overshadow regulations on fossil fuels, and industrial contamination. Sadly, not only the earth suffers. The green of money holds massive power all over the world, over governments and nations, conglomerates, moguls and corporations. This type of green fosters the kind of growth that masks as people friendly but only the 1% truly enjoy its bounty. Yet, it seems that 99% of our lives are spent in pursuit of this shade of green. We need it for survival, yes, but we have been taught to believe it can buy happiness, too. The truth that it doesn't can be a hard lesson.
As I watched spring give way to summer, I observe the myriad hues of green melt into one another, the color blending, depending on the rain, or the fog, or the sun of the day. Brilliant or muted, it reminds me how there are two sides to everything, a dark and a light. It’s a hard color to capture although painters and photographers have tried in so many ways. There is wonder in the smallest green shoot and in the highest, oldest cedar tree. In due time, the trees and leaves will lose their brilliance as they move towards hibernation. Even now many of the flowers have dried and dropped from their perches. There is a season for everything.
As we cautiously step outside, testing the waters, hopeful that we are almost through a global pandemic, I am grateful that my time in quarantine revealed to me that my grass was the green I had always been searching for. I have no need to look any where else. The seasons change, and so can we. Happy Solstice.
My Magic Garden