Gray skies offer an intriguing backdrop for the colors of spring. I am not sure how many shades of gray there actually are – our eyes can detect about 200 variations of white – but the palette of emerging flora dances with changes in the gray tones that enhance it. Gray encourages creativity, evident in the March entrance of whites and yellows in our Missouri landscape.
White is symbolic of birth, and the pure simplicity of the Bradford pears and wild cherries and plums provides a stark contrast to winter’s bleakness as our Ozarks return to life. Yellows are the first colors the human eye grabs. Maybe that is why Mother Nature blesses us with the cheerful stimulation of jonquils, daffodils and forsythia so early in the season. Then she accentuates her femininity as she dons the pinks of the tulip trees, and mystifies us with the purples of the redbuds as their blossoms seem to materialize magically from nothing to majestic color. Soon to follow will be the lavenders and magentas of creeping phlox. As the earth warms, the silver gray skies will darken, brilliantly showcasing the dazzling glow of the dogwood stepping out of the charcoal shadows.
The earth is reborn. Gray skies will be more often blue, considered one of the most politically correct colors in the world, worth noting in this election year, and the perfect background for the color most restful to our human eyes, the greens that surround us. On this green stage red tulips and roses are a powerful reminder of the love that makes this world go ’round.
For this column I referred to an article by Moose Peterson, a wildlife photographer, for his thoughts on the psychology of color.