Alice Walker was right: “It pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Over the last few years, anytime I’ve ventured out into the wilds, I’ve been absolutely delighted by purple. Irises regally posing by a dilapidated fence. Wild lupine dancing in the breeze. Tulips running across a field. Even thistle fighting for its spot along the roadside. Yes, purple is a wonder that always demands attention. But it is not alone in its splendor.
Other colors as fervently showoff their wares. Indian Paintbrush hangs on, hugging a steep red wall. Pesky dandelions dance anywhere they can grab hold—a meadow in the Grand Tetons or some tidy lawn in the suburbs—until a gentle breeze or a youngster’s wish sends them off to an encore performance in the next field. The frail pink fronds of the Eurasian Salt Cedar seem so unreal. Surely they must be fans left behind by Puck and friends, discarded evidence of a reality beyond our own? Orange carpets of California Poppies go unswept, hillside after hillside.
The list is endless: precarious pink blossoms, carefully posing atop a cactus’ thorns; the soft purr of pussy willows along a creek; the vast glory of roses; the heavy sweet white of honeysuckle and gardenias; the gentle sway of daffodils; and the ever vibrant parade of day lilies.
But if these colors—purple and red and orange and yellow and white—capture our attention and wonder, there is a sweet and subtle shade that too often goes unnoticed. It’s everywhere, no matter where we look. Green is our constant companion. Green is the foundation that makes all else possible.
And if we stop and notice it—really notice it—the variety is overwhelming. The dusty sea-green of desert sage. The delicate weave of ferns. The yellow green of new aspen leaves, shimmering in the sunlight. The dark rich green of pines and firs, boldly defining a mountainside. The cool sheltering green of a tree canopy, filtering in the sun. And—of course—the continual wonder of green sprouts, valiantly breaking through the earth seeking warmth and light.
It is green that so dramatically lets the more brilliant hues stand out, anchors them so they can be praised. Without green, would we have as much shade, as effective camouflage, or an awareness of the seasons? Green even gives us the very oxygen we breathe. If purple is God’s way of capturing our attention, then green must be a demonstration of love and concern.
NOTE: I wrote this posting years ago as part of a small photo booklet I had created called Natural Musings: Reflections from a Roadside Naturalist. With Earth Day fast approaching, I thought this would be worth sharing at this time.