March 27, 2007

Sky blue pink

"What's your favourite colour?" I would ask my grandmother.

"Sky blue pink," she'd say.

I would rummage through the coffee can of broken crayons, looking for blue and pink and gold that I could use to draw a sunset. The paper we used was a strange texture, with a weave like fabric, and it came in a big roll. We called it Joe's paper. We'd cut off pieces as we needed it, sometimes all of us kids hunching over a six-foot piece to make a holiday mural. Long Halloween murals, with haunted houses and cornfields and black cats, were our specialty. Someone – well, I'm guessing his name might have been Joe – had given us the heavy roll of paper, more than a foot in diameter, and even though we spent all kinds of time drawing, it took us years to use it up.

When my grandmother and aunt came to visit, they'd stay for a few days, and every afternoon, they'd sit at the kitchen table long after lunch was over to play Scrabble or make clay figures or draw on Joe's paper. My mother, washing dishes at the sink, would put the kettle on because Aunt Seashell loved a cup of tea. We'd eat homemade cookies and drink tea during those lazy afternoons while we kids scribbled on paper with crayons and the three women filled the room above our heads with comfortable chatter that swirled like cigarette smoke. I rarely said a word, or even looked up from under my hair while I rolled clay into snakes (the only thing I could ever really make), but I listened carefully, loving the rhythm of dialogue among three women who have a shared history and shared accent. I can still remember the way my grandmother told a funny story, with a dramatic pause just before the punchline. My youngest sister, Urban Sophisticate, tells a story in much the same way, even though my grandmother died when she was still a toddler, which makes me wonder if story-telling has some kind of genetic component.

For years, I didn't understand my grandmother's favorite colour. The sunsets I loved were summer sunsets at our camp, which looks west across the River That Runs Between Two Countries, brilliant red sunsets with vivid streaks of purple spread across the ripples of the bay. It's been forty years, probably, since she tried to explain why she loved that colour. But as I've gotten older, closer and closer each year to the age my grandmother was when I knew her, I've come to appreciate the more subtle colours of the sunset just outside my door in early spring, those soft colours, sky blue pink.


Sky blue pink

My front yard. The colours, unfortunately, don't look the same once I uploaded the photo to Flickr and posted it to my blog – something got lost in the process. Or maybe, really, the colours can be seen only in person.

28 comments:

PPB said...

The colors may be different but they still look sky blue pink to me.

Jodie said...

Something got lost?!!!

OMG! That is a fantastic photo. I want your little point and shoot camera. What model is it?

(Or does it only work with you behind the shutter?)

Jodie

jo(e) said...

Jodie: Thanks. It's a Kodak Easy Share CX7330 -- a pretty inexpensive camera. I liked the photo better on my computer monitor because the colours were more subtle but then flickr kept washing them out. Weird.

Robin said...

Just wanted to say thanks for another beautiful post.

Lydia said...

That really is a beautiful color.

I'm reading this book for a class called God in the Machine by Anne Foerst, who was (maybe still is) religion scholar at MIT. She spends a lot of time talking about humans and storytelling. Today we theorized that the our (collective) purpose in life is to tell stories (or the story). That made sense to me, until one girl asked what the purpose of the story was.

Sorry I strayed from the topic.

Kyla said...

I can't imagine what it must look like in person, the photo is quite breathtaking itself!

Yankee, Transferred said...

ooooooh lovely. Sky blue pink, indeed. I love grandmas.

todd said...

"You know, one loves the sunset, when one is so sad..."

"Were you so sad, then?" I asked, "on the day of the forty-four sunsets?"

But the little prince made no reply.

I did not know what to say to him. I felt awkward and blundering. I did not know how I could reach him, where I could overtake him and go on hand in hand with him once more.
It is such a secret place, the land of tears.

--from "The Little Prince", by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Kathryn said...

For years I thought that "Sky blue pink" was a joke colour, impossible to imagine...then I too stopped and looked at a sunset. Not as breathtaking as that, but still a sunset. And I understood.
Thank you for such a lovely evocation of childhood relationships and an equally lovely glimpse of your home skies :-)

RageyOne said...

Love the pic!

Girl said...

Oooo...how lovely :)

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I love subtle colors in sunsets, in autmn and spring meadows, everywhere. Very pretty, nice reminiscence. When I read your blog, I want to write things like this! :-D

jenfromRI said...

Gorgeous picture.

Mona Buonanotte said...

The kids were sitting down to breakfast this morning when they yelled into the kitchen for me. "Come look at the sunrise! It's pink and beautiful!"

And it was.

I grabbed the camera and ran outside for photos. I could tell from the shutters quick openandclose that it would never capture the colours that my eyes could. Never.

Thank you for such a lovely photo, jo(e)!

seeker said...

Very nice!

Jenny F. Scientist said...

Gorgeous!

Silver Creek Mom said...

I LOVE sky blue pink. ANd Nothing can compare to loking at it in person.

My Favorite colour too, only becasue it's only view for a short time.

Nicole said...

I knew exactly what you meant by sky blue pink. And it brought to my mind the picture of my Grandma and I sitting on her couch watching the sunset, as we so often did. Nothing to me is more beautiful than sky blue pink :)

Lydia said...

You know, this sky blue pink thing is almost like that picture that you can either see as two faces in profile, or a vase in the middle.

Ampersand said...

Jo(e), I love the description -- sky blue pink. In fact, I was appreciating it just last night and I posted this photo. Lovely memory of your grandmother.

liz said...

Beautiful post, beautiful picture.

landismom said...

That's a color I remember my dad introducing me to. I can't remember where we were driving, one evening, when he pointed out the sky blue pink to the west of us. Thanks for bringing that back.

JustMe said...

echoing the rest! it must have been amazing if colors were lost...

susan said...

Wow...they look gorgeous here!

colleen said...

When I don't have time to read the whole page, I look at the pictures. There are so many wonderful ones here. This one reminds me of a silk batik.

lostinthemiddle said...

So beautiful.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Story telling, jokes, sense of humor, all must be genetic. My family is spread far and wide. On the very rare occasions that we are together it always amazes me on how alike we all are. Even the new generations.

Wow, I really miss all my family right now!

Anonymous said...

My Poppa lived in Cape Breton and had a love of life that defies me to understand or explain. He spent 15 years fighting cancer with a sense of humor and a sense of fun. He died last June and as I nursed him at home I made sure his window was open to face the open field.He could watch the amazing sunset and see his favorite evening colors. He described this color to me and to his granddaughter, as sky blue pink. Sky blue pink to me is the color of love.