When the kids were younger, we spent hours each day on art projects—finger paints, crayons, sidewalk chalk, markers, watercolors, acrylic paints at the Fisher-Price easel with stubby, color-coded brushes, and many more. Emily was a visual learner and artist from a very young age. She held a pencil correctly when she was one year old, she drew detailed pictures of our family, and she would come home from kindergarten and describe the color and style of clothes and shoes her teacher wore (fast forward to Stitch Fix!) I can’t remember how old she was at the time, but she went through a period when she was coloring with crayons that she would put one in her mouth and pretend she was smoking. When I gently admonished her for emulating smoking, she replied that they were special good rainbow ones with vitamins and fruit! That memory was recently revived for her when she saw an ad for rainbow-colored personal essential oil diffusers—cylinder-shaped diffusers of essential oils that you inhale into your mouth and out your nose—just like her childhood idea!
Color is a scarce commodity in Nature as late Fall morphs into Winter. Our Thanksgiving weekend hike at Warner Lake County Park was devoid of much color, but we were able to find some interesting hues by looking closely at the gray-brown landscape. Red berries of a woodland perennial persisted among the pine needles. Red-violet branches of Red-twigged Dogwood brightened the lake shore, and scarlet berries of a Viburnum looked enticing against the sleepy gray background.
Rusty orange leaves cling to the understory Ironwood trees through most of the winter, making them easy to identify. Bittersweet vines produce vibrant red-orange berries perfect for Fall decoration.
Happy yellow-gold seedheads remain from a prolific-blooming wildflower. Golden stands of grass lined the ice-covered Warner Lake.
Healthy green moss covered a fallen tree, outlining the upended roots and trunk. A fallen cluster of green pine needles, thanks to a nibbling squirrel, intertwined with the brown needles that were shed earlier in the season.
The hiking day began with blue skies and active, fluffy clouds of white before a front of gray clouds and sprinkles covered the cerulean. A few days later the day ended with a rainbow-colored sunset painted on the western easel of sky.
One of the gifts of Winter, when the landscape is devoid of color, is the simplification of sight. With the leaves gone, the structure and essence of a tree is obvious. There are less things to look at—no flowers or colors to capture our attention for a second before it moves to the next thing. Time seems to slow a bit. The things that do capture our attention are worth noting and examining. Late Fall and Winter open up the opportunity to look closely at ourselves—what is our structure and essence? What is the understory of our life that has been covered up with the exuberance of Spring and Summer and that is now easier to identify? How do we outline a healthy life? How do we intertwine the old parts of ourselves that need to be shed with the green, growing parts that need to be expressed? The season of my life when the kids were young was busy, fun, full of laughter, love, and creativity—an exuberant, colorful Spring! Emily taught me that we can look at things differently, that we can re-create a negative into a positive, that we can breathe in the special healing rainbow goodness of Life.