Research says that one color truly stands out in a crowd. One. This courageous color grabs the eye. It energizes our psyche, stimulates thought and undeniably makes a statement like no other color. The famous fashion designer, Bill Blass, offered a simple guideline when he said, “When in doubt … wear red.” People have definite feelings about color. What is your take on red? You have an opinion, one way or the other … even if it lies under the surface of more pressing priorities. Market research says so. The magic of red is this: There is no complacency in the life of red.
(Above: my newly acquired “crimson red” antique cubby.)
In the marketplace, in Nature, in every corner of our lives and at a million intersections … red is indeed everywhere doing what it does best … getting noticed. This essay got hijacked after starting out as an innocent account of two farmgirl pals who went on an apple picking field-trip. “Red” had other ideas. Red will not be ignored. The beginnings of this story began recently after I bought a red antique cupboard. There was very little red elsewhere in our living room. My darling crimson cubby completely dominated the landscape. That won’t do. Consequently, I’ve been on a red quest…
Red. Fine, I get it. Well, maybe not. Beyond a visual offering of red-theme photos, what might a bloggy journalist have to say about red?? Lucky for me, red has plenty to say. Ok, I got game, I’ll play the role of an information “go-for” girl on behalf of one of my favorite colors.
The word crimson has been recorded in the English language since 1400. However, Red was well known and widely used in many other cultures long before 1400. For example, red is thought by many in India to be the national color and they are probably right in believing that the creation of red dyes first happened in that region. The origin of red dye is said to have come from the dye produced from Kermes insects (“red worms” in Sanskrit). The red color family is made up of at least 50 recognized shades of red. Now you know why our Home Ec. teachers and our Moms used to say, “Be careful when trying to match reds.” Below: My recycled shoulder-pad potholders. I used MaryJane’s line of fabric for some of them. The design was published in the online magazine for members of the MaryJanesFarm sisterhood. It is called The Cluck and you can get it by subscribing. Click on the banner at the top of this page. The virtual magazine comes to you by email and past issues are available too.
Red is intended to get our attention and it is used extensively in packaging. Like what? Canned soup, breakfast cereal, frozen pies, pasta, pizza … etc etc … and that is just the tip of the edible iceberg of products that use visual red on product packaging in the hope of snatching the customer’s eye in the marketplace. Then, there is the rest of the business universe that uses some form of red on every imaginable kind of ‘for sale’ imagery. Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, chose red as his “signature color” because it was his own favorite color. His signature logo tile was a shade of red that he called “Cherokee Red”. Wright colored his own farm buildings with Cherokee red, as well as his fleet of cars, his roofs, his gates, and his signs. It was specified as the accent color in many of his buildings and continues to be generously used by his followers. Even his concrete floor designs were often colored with warm shades red.
“Barn red” paint was invented right here in the U.S.A and has long been used for farm and ranch buildings.
Nowadays, what with “going green” being fashionable and all, some would argue that green ought to be referred to as “the color of life”. I don’t really disagree, but let me say this … concerning you & I and most other creatures, red is the color of life. We’re not little green people from the moon. We are literally “red-blooded Americans”! True, there are other “red” meanings that aren’t positive or cheery, but I’m going to favor the opinion of those who have received the gift of life from blood donors. Red is what we are from the inside out. Red is the color of love and it is present in every season, in every person and it is at the heart of every loving act of courage … because red loves life.
(Coral, pearls, and sterling necklace made by me)
I make beaded jewelry. I’m also a long-term fabric addict – I enjoy making things from textiles. For the last three or so years though I’ve been cuckoo for wearable rocks. Color and texture is so much fun to work with. Red is my favorite color and what is true with so many other things is true with stones, red makes things pop! I use red a lot … coral, garnet, jasper, carnelian etc.
What is true of many artists and artisans is also true of me, Nature provides the best inspiration for design and use of color…
(Above: My friend, Anita, holding some of our fern harvest that we used for fall decorating)
Apples! One of my many loves in Nature and they’re also at home in our house. Even my horse is an “apple” – her registered name is “Apple Pi Dolly Rose”. Although Dolly looks to be chocolate brown in color, she is a red horse in terms of genetics – “chestnut” is red, minus dark points. Anita’s horse is also a genetic red – a red bay with black points – see photos below. The “red baldy” cow is a cross between a red Hereford bull and a red Angus cow. Red-orange lichen makes a home on rocks in our arid corner of the world. One of the first things to turn red in the Fall is Woodbine – what a showstopper it is. Hmmm, maybe it really ought to be called a showstarter when it comes to Autumn’s concert of color. Red is everywhere in my corner of the world and I bet that is true for you too … if you take a look around.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah uses crimson to symbolize sin. Isaiah 1:18 states, “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” This statement is a very early example of the appropriate use of the color red in word form. The word “picture” created for the reader and the intended message is blunt and easily understood. That is what red is – easy to see. Red cannot be mistaken for anything else … and the contrast is especially bold when red sits next to another color.
That was my lead-in to the next phase of this “thread on red”. Let us us tone it down a tad. As mentioned earlier, I went on an apple picking mission last weekend (with Anita and her husband, Jerry). In addition to filling the truck-bed with apples, we also went for a drive in the hill country (on private land and with permission) to see some Autumn color. We were not disappointed!! Oh, did we ever have fun gathering ferns and Thornapple branches for decorating. Below are photos from the day’s adventure…
The above photos were taken at a higher elevation. We picked apples a few miles away. The apples were right by a creek and when we were done with our apple pickin’, we walked down by the water to just listen. Anita pointed to an open grassy place where a very old Oak lived. The branches hung like Octopus arms overhead. She said that she could spend a lot of time parked right there, sitting in a lawn chair with a blanket and a book. I told her she’d have to scoot over and make room for me. I’m so blessed by her friendship. We’re “sisters” … sharing the same spirit. To a friend like this, you don’t have to explain your eccentricities. You can finish each others sentences. We marvel at the same things, love many of the same things and we giggle at the same things and at each other. It is healthy to laugh at yourself and a real friend will help you do that. Most folks need a lot less of the serious, serial poet in their lives because it can turn into too much self. Many of us need a lot more healthy, wholesome, goofball time that includes others. I’ve wandered off-topic … but on purpose.
As I was saying, we explored the creek bank. I spied some Watercress that was easy to pick. When we got home, we divvied up the basket of freshwater greens. For those who may not know what Watercress is, well, it is a plant that grows in a “bunchy” manner and it likes to live in shallow running water right at the edge – mountain streams in the northern states. How do you eat it? Wash it good and put it on a sandwich as if it were lettuce. It has a peppery flavor – kind of like a radish. I like it with roast beef and cream cheese.
Jerry estimated that about 500 pounds of apples lay in the truck bed! I think the tree species is Prairie Spy – they do well in this climate. In my opinion, they are the BEST apple in the known universe. Put them in a pie or eat them right off the tree. They seem even sweeter if they’re warmed by the autumn sun. The apple trees were loaded and we couldn’t leave such beautiful apples to rot. Most of them were freshly fallen, some we picked off the trees. The trees are still heavy with fruit. We talked of going back. We’ll see how I feel about it after I finish hand-peeling and freezing gobs of apples. Anita is even more of a glutton for punishment. I just took a smidgen of the load. She’s going to make canned pie filling and wine.
I was going to take a photo of the intact pie that I baked. However, the person with whom I share a bed was unaware of the plan. Apple pie is his 2nd(?) love in life and he was tempted beyond his ability to resist. Once the pie was violated, I eagerly followed suit. It was so good. No bragging there because anybody who knows a thing or two about apple pies knows it is the fruit that makes the pie … not the crust and not the baker. These apples are o-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g … soooo sweet and yet tangy tart … the perfect apple. Praise be to the maker of apples.
So, how do you like your apple pie? Me, I’m a minimalist. The recipe is simple … crust, apples, brown sugar, white sugar, butter, bake it, get a fork and eat it. No ice cream, no cheese.
Most apples are red and rightly so. If apples did have personality and character (in addition to flavor) they’d be sincere & sweet … with a crisp sense of humor and they’d be clear headed straight shooters (figuratively speaking). No wonder old-timey “real” apples taste so good when they’re raised in the real dirt of life … no pampering, molly-coddling or genetic fumbling. I want an apple with attitude … not an apple that tastes like it has no idea who it is. A real apple knows. A red apple ought to, but some of them lost their mojo along the way. I’ve been there from time to time … losing my Redness, my courage, my moxxy, my distinctive uniqueness, my ability to blossom, bear fruit, my tartness, my salt, my crisp. Know what I mean jellybean?
Seeds. Mysterious miracles. We’re full of ’em … ideas, dreams, goals etc. We’re also full of red … about six quarts or so. We’re full of life and renewal. It happens to us every day. We are living, breathing, red-blooded miracles. If you don’t feel like a miracle, take another look. Maybe all you need is a refreshing fluff-up and some red. Oft times, putting your red on is a do-it-yourself project … the key word is do. Lifting a lagging spirit from the inside-out is do-able.
At the moment, I could really use some red. I’ve got a bad cold. We’re working our cattle tomorrow (vaccinations) and I’ll also need to prepare lunch for the crew of friends who will help. Today, I feel rotten … not red. I happened to glance in the mirror earlier … “Oh ick” is putting it mildly. I need an overnight blast of red rejuvenation. I have to rally. I’ll follow Bill’s advice, “When in doubt … wear red.” It is now late afternoon and my mind is mud. I can’t think of anything pithy or clever to end my essay with, so I’ll just quote Forest Gump. “That’s all I have to say about that.” Well, except for this closing thought … Got red? If not, getchya some. It’ll help cure what ails ya … I hope.