Crazy For Crimson

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.

  1. Terry says:

    Ya might need something stronger than red to help that cold Miss Shery!

  2. Cat says:

    Lol…I do love your antique cupboard, but I must confess it was the pumpkins that caught my eye first! 😉

  3. TJ says:

    I just finished, last weekend, clearing my kitchen and basement of a measly 100# of apples… I’ve made apple EVERYTHING – the crockpot, dehydrator, and hot-water canner running nonstop for days on end. I’m apple-d out!!

    But… your invigorating post makes me want to GO PICK MORE!!!! You, dear, are a rascal for that!!! (grin)

    Drink some RED tomato juice to help feed that cold some vitamin C!!!!

  4. Lucie says:

    Red seems such a powerful color and takes a sense of self confidence to embrace the boldness of red. Enjoy the pop of boldness!

  5. Hi Shery, Loved your comments on RED. I love red too, although the melon goes good with my skin color which is fair, when I wear it I get comments on it. The apples look good, they are my favorite fruit, if they are hard, sweet, and juicy. I sure wish I had a place to pick around here. I want to make Apple pie filling for the winter. Guess I will find some somewhere. Hope your cold is better and you have a nice week, Hugs from Farmgirl sister # 1020 Juanita

  6. katmom~Grace says:

    Love it…and I spotted your sweet little "Hummel" figurine on the shelf.
    Autumn Farm Girl Hugz

  7. Debbie says:

    Holy Cow Shery! LOL!!!

    I think you’ve covered RED! MY favorite color too! It’s got Sas all year round! I love to wear it, adorn my walls with it and DRIVE first car ever was a 66 Ford Mustang and that began a trend with me and red cars… Had a Red Durango, before that a red celica convertable and now, a YOU GUESSED IT… RED Explorer…I just FEEL BETTER in RED..Plain and Simple!

    I wrote about my Love affair with RED last December on my blog.

    Click here to read my take on THE BEST DARNED COLOR IN THE UNIVERSE!

    Drink more cranberry juice! The RED variety!

    I think RED ought to be the offical farmgirl color don’t you farmgirls?

    One more thing… Did you know that the color for Massachusettes is… RED? Think Lobster, cranberries, home of ocean spray, New England fall foliage,and THE RED SOX! Just today I photogaphed the red rose hips on the beach roses too!
    Loved this post Shery!

    Thanks for the dose of Red… I was needing it!
    For a girl with a yucky cold you out did yourself!
    Your " red- lovin’ beachy farmgirl friend"

  8. Marilyn K. Khadduri says:

    Hi Shery,
    I so loved your last blog, but this one is outstanding! Besides loving the color red, I
    just have to copy a bit of this blog, so I will not forget it! Beginning with , "I’ve been
    there from time to time……losing my REDNESS" to "Lifting a lagging spirit from the
    inside out IS do-able." Yes, I know what you mean, jellybean! 🙂 You just worded
    it so perfectly, and I must pass it on to some of my "sisters" here. Please keep up the
    good work; you are such an inspiration!

    A rural farm girl from the east coast,

  9. Sue Stout says:

    Red is my favorite color….it always perks me up. I loved every word and all the pictures. I even "red" it again.

  10. Ruth says:

    Shery, I’ll be sending lots of healing energy your way and praying for a speedy recovery for you. Work to be done or not, you simply MUST take care of YOU!!!

    I’ve never been a fan of red, which I am now ashamed to say after reading your, as always, inspiring blog! I think I’ll give it another look-see though. Thanks for sharing a broader perspective. I might just catch the *red-bug*, too!

    Seeing red in a different light… -Ruth P.S. Be well.

  11. SuburbanFarmgirl says:

    Oh your pictures always make me swoon but especially this week! Bravo!

  12. I do believe, it just might cure what ails me…I was kinda’ down in the ‘blues’ this morning and what a wonderful ‘pick me up’ I got….one I always get from your beautiful writing! You always grab my ‘red’ heart and give it a big hug, when you write. I just love the feeling!
    Your pictures, as always are beautiful. Wish I could grab some of those wonderful apples too! I could go on forever, but I really just want to tell you how much I appreciated this post. Now with coffee in hand I am going get dressed….and you got it…in some red!

  13. Claudia says:

    Red is truly my favorite color too! It makes me smile just looking at. Thanks for inspiring me

  14. Reba says:

    Red is what I am INTO these days as well. I (and my hubby) just painted the bottom portion of our kitchen cabinets…red! The top portion remains white (and boring), and my walls are yellow (sunny). I have apples all around…in baskets, in cross-stitch, on wallpaper, etc. I have a Hoosier with RED trim! I love-love-love it! My sister said while looking at my cabinets…"they are RED!" Yep! That was what I was after…color, not approval. I absolutely love your pictures. My daughter lives in Montana and the pics remind me so much of where she is. I love visiting, and may live there someday! Thanks for another great post!!

  15. Brenda says:

    Hi Shery,
    Red is my favorite color. You know the red hat ladies, I am not one and I do not wear purple. But something happened when I got closer to 50 I could wear red when I never could before. Something changed in me or outside not sure but I always wore browns, blues, some greens and black. I would try on red and put it back on the rack. But now I have to remind myself when I shop that I just bought something red a while back I should choose something else. The red so wants to win that battle. I bought a red couch when we moved to this larger house. I though hubs would say no way but he could see my vision for the room I wanted to put it in. Of course I painted my hen house red, what else? And the cobalt blue I have always put here & there in the kitchen certainly does work well with the reds. Can we be friends for life? I would love to live down a lane close to you and be a part of your farmgirls club. My farmgirl friends live over an hour away but I am thinking I am going to make the trip over more often. I read your blogs and it makes me yearn for close friends. Apples. I got a bag of Spys from the local orchard and made applesauce. My grand daughters love it chunky and full of cinnamon. I also posted an apple butter recipe to die for that you make in your crock pot just recently if you still have some of those apples left. We have a whole woods with a floor of ferns. I never thought about decorating with them. I’m afraid ours may be brown and not so pretty now but I think I may just go out and take a look this afternoon. What a wonderful post and as always I am going away with a smile.

  16. mellee says:

    Red is one of the very definitions of my personality; I have been a blazing red head for my entire life. Because I have always stuck out, the color red has played a part in just about every aspect of my life. The colors of clothing I choose, the color car I prefer, the extreme love I have for fall in Virginia…yes, red is a part of my existence! Thank you for your great essay reminding us all of the reasons we love red, and feel better soon.


  17. carol branum says:

    hi, my living room is in red and all the things in it are red and i have red dishes,due to my mother,and i wrote a story about it on my blog,called the french house,at,so now i collect red,have a wonderful fall ,carol

  18. Jill says:

    Thanks for sharing ‘Red’. I used to have a red stove top, it made me happy every morning. Was a sad day when it died. Red is what I wear when I have a morning where I just can’t decide. You know, the morning where you can’t remember if you fed the animals, didn’t eat breakfast and are going to be late, then you find you left the water running in the water tough – that is a "get the red on, girl" day.
    thanks much for the fun reading and sharing in your life,
    from coastal California mountains, where the most red I see is on the poison oak in the fall – eeek!

  19. cora jo says:

    Shery, Red is …well, cool. Love it myself…and also am trying to kick a cold. Went to the dr…who said I have a cold. Sigh. Think an apple pie is in order here too. Thanks and be well.

  20. Jan says:

    Hi Shery, Loved all of your ‘red’ pictures! Red is my favorite color…I have always thought it a really awesome color. My kitchen cupboards used to be red, I miss them, however getting ready to paint the front door red, yea!.Stop to think about it, my horses halter, lead, lunge line and bucket are all red. I also enjoyed all of the info on red. Hope you get to feeling better real soon! Take care, Jan

  21. Peggy says:

    I just love red too! Loved your post on the history of red and it really is true it is the one color that your eye is always drawn to. I took a photo class and the instructor said to always try to catch at least a small bit of red in the picture.

  22. andylynne says:

    What a wonderful post. Red is such a happy color. My kitchen is blue and yellow overall. But I found I’ve added lots of red accents. Cherries, a red basket, red framed vintage embroidery. It pops up here and there and really has a cheerful effect. I have long worn red, love it’s warm yet bright color to cheer me up. Especially a wooly red sweater I have. Thank you for the lovely photos, and a peek at your new cupboard.

  23. Lisa says:

    I’ve been "red" for 30+ years – pots and pans, walls, cars, kitchens, doodads of every kind. As a brunette, I could wear red better than Nancy Reagan – now as a "hi lite", a bit tricky – but will give it a try again. Wish I had that red stove, and yes, red should be the official farmgirl color –
    This was a great one (living just south of you, I have all the apples, neat leaves and pumpkins too, snow this week-end : )
    Lisa, Broomfield CO

  24. Krissi says:

    Well Hello Ms. Shery,
    I loved your blog and I am new to blogging. I have loved MaryJanesFarm for some time and just joined. Every thing you showed reminds me of home when the seasons actually change and you get to feel some cold weather. I’m in Texas – doesn’t get cold here. I never thought I would say I’m crazy for red until I read your blog and saw those pictures. Usually I would say that purple is my favorite color. But then the memories came back when I saw the porcelain pots with the red handles – LOVE em and remember using them. I find that where I’m living right now I miss more than ever the smell of the house when you’re canning chili sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, and other asundry of fruit that could actually be frozen and or placed in the fruit cellar in the basement. Ahh, the basement what a luxury! I hope your feeling better – when you looked in the mirror was your nose red? Have a blessed red day!
    Katy, TX

  25. Christmas Songs Lyrics says:

    Wow. That was pretty awesome. They just keep getting better and better!

  26. Debbie Whitfield says:

    Wow! It’s a little late but not really, I so enjoyed your blog and I LOVE RED ! Thank you for sharing memories thru photos.

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