Thursday, August 11, 2011

Question #2

The other day Robin posed an question. These were my responses.

Five Colors: Red, Blue, Green, Purple, Beige
Five Cities: New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis, Washington D.C.
Five Landscapes: The Smoky Mountains, The Grand Canyon, The Gulf Coast, kudzu covered trees, a cotton field at harvest
Five Interiors: A fireplace hearth, a sunlit kitchen, a church sanctuary, a library, a reading nook
Five things you might wear: khakis, turtleneck, scarf, loafers, pearls

She promised more to come, and boy did she deliver.

The first question is: Within each of your groups, do you see commonalities?

Before I answer the questions, my lists are composed of the first things I thought of in each category. I didn't think them through. I just responded.

In the colors, the common attributes of four of my picks are obvious. They're strong, vibrant colors. In the shades of those colors that I thought of, they're speak out loud notice me colors. They're colors that I like for my wardrobe. They set off the black which has always been my staple color. They're the colors that draw my eye in art. Then there's beige, boring, bland, the color of government buildings, oatmeal, tapioca, nearly invisible beige. In comparison to the other colors, its very blandness makes it stick out like a sore thumb. Well, that could be a common characteristic, but if you look underneath that, a neutral color has to be strong enough to hold up against stronger colors. Too many bright colors can be overwhelming. A strong neutral is needed for an anchor. There is the true commonality. It's strong.

With the cities, music, art and heat are what draw them together. So many good memories. I can see my husband and me at Blues Alley on a hot August Night listening to an absolutely smoking guitarist or sipping lemonade in June at Preservation Hall to the tunes of old school Dixieland jazz, waiting to get into the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. We wandered the Parthenon together in Nashville, enjoying the respite from the heat on another fun day. During an outdoor wedding in Nashville one summer many years ago, within sight and hearing distance of the Parthenon, Medea was being performed. We laughed together over that irony. In New Orleans, I dragged him to every museum we could get into with the promise that I would still dance all night. Museums have always been one of my passion, and I remember walking the mall in D.C. with my sister and her ex, telling them we absolutely had to see the Rodin exhibit, even if it was late and we were tired. In St. Louis, the memory is my husband and two of our closest friends at a museum and wandering through its gardens while I was heavily pregnant, then later listening to Alan play his guitar. All of these memories, as is right for a southern woman in summer, are drenched in sweat.

With the landscapes, I think the common element is that they can bring about a quiet sense of awe. The Smokies for me have always been a place of tremendous peace. When I read Philip Levine's Our Valley, I knew exactly what he meant.

"They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you're thrilled and terrified."

It's what I feel when I see the ocean before me. It's what I imagine I'd feel at The Grand Canyon. The kudzu covered treescape and a cotton field at harvest aren't quite so magnificent, but it's there. The ability of kudzu to grow, cover and transform anything is amazing. It creates completely natural, organic sculptures that can be beautiful or grotesque, and trying to conquer kudzu is a reminder of the weakness and futility that a human can hold within herself. Allow yourself to truly observe a massive stretch of kudzu, and it can induce a sense of awe. I live in cotton country, and cotton in fall is a thing of beauty. Cotton takes a long time to grow, and all summer long, it will be green and leafy, and then suddenly (unless you're out in the fields daily), it seems that those fields have turned white. When you just can't bear the heat anymore, and stores are selling sweaters that only remind you of the daily humidity, you can drive by a stretch of white that just goes on and on and remember the hope of a crisp winter morning.

With the interiors, the common element is comfort. Each feels peaceful, calm and welcoming to me. In any of them, I feel like I can retreat to my own inner self or join with others. (A perfect little nook for reading has two comfortable chairs.)

For the clothing, that's my favorite casual attire on a cool, autumn day. Just take your choice of pearls or a scarf.

Robin has more questions. I'm almost a little scared.


Blogger sunflowerkat321 said...

I did Robin's first question but haven't gotten back for the follow ups. I thought about not reading this entry before I did my own evaluation but I'm sure there will be as many differences as similarities. It's all very fascinating, isn't it? Fun to read the connections you see in your responses. What else do you think she has up her sleeve?

August 11, 2011 9:59 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

This is fascinating, the combination of longings for awe and comfort. I'm commenting from NC, where the cabin and landscape evoke the same desires.

August 15, 2011 7:20 AM  

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