Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring—
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.
―Louise Glück, Poems 1962-2012
It was a perfect spring day. The air was sweet and gentle and the sky stretched high, an intense blue. Harold was certain that the last time he had peered through the net drapes of Fossebridge Road (his home), the trees and hedges were dark bones and spindles against the skyline; yet now that he was out, and on his feet, it was as if everywhere he looked, the fields, gardens, trees, and hedgerows and exploded with growth. A canopy of sticky young leaves clung to the branches above him. There were startling yellow clouds of forsythia, trails of purple aubrietia; a young willow shook in a fountain of silver. The first of the potato shoots fingered through the soil, and already tiny buds hung from the gooseberry and currant shrubs like the earrings Maureen used to wear. The abundance of new life was enough to make him giddy.
―Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Slush is frozen over. People say that winter lasts forever, but it’s because they obsess over the thermometer. North in the mountains, the maple syrup is trickling. Brave geese punch through the thin ice left on the lake. Underground, pale seeds roll over in their sleep. Starting to get restless. Starting to dream green.
Imagine for a moment a world without the color green. What a sad place! What does green mean to us?
The modern English word green is derived from the same Germanic root as the words grass and grow. No color is more tied to nature or life itself. Spring is the season when the world seems to exult in viridescence, as chlorophyll surges to convert increased sunlight into growth. Green is connected not only to sunlight, but to water, which lies in droplets upon leaves and is processed by hidden roots into verdant foliage and colorful blossoms. Other colors may crown plants, but green predominates the landscape. Lizards, insects and other animals camouflage their bodies into this varied and brilliant green canvas of life.
We humans, who are not by nature green things, are drawn to green. Emerald, jade, grasshopper, artichoke, asparagus, teal, olive, mint, avocado– so many shades. Not only do we love green and its promise of continuing life, we use it as a metaphor for aspects of the human condition. Youth, growth and fertility are counterbalanced by death, jealousy and sickness. Thus green reminds us that there is no change without death, no growth devoid of failure. A naive person is green, like an unripe fruit. Green is also a color of safety, one that tells us when to move forward, and yet a color of risk. After all, it was in a garden gleaming with green that Eve was tempted.
# 5 Pregnant
Science tells us that green is light with a wavelength of roughly 495–570 nm, the color lying between blue and yellow on the visible spectrum. But surely green is much more.
The woman looks around and thinks: ‘there cannot ever have been a spring more beautiful than this. I did not know until now that clouds could be like this. I did not know that the sky is the sea and that clouds are the souls of happy ships, sunk long ago. I did not know that the wind could be tender, like hands as they caress – what did I know – until now?