Colours are said to influence our emotions. How true that is, I don’t know and cannot say. But I know that a world without colour is, to me, a kind of passing. Not permanent, but nonetheless an ending, with little guarantee of a new beginning. Before the symphony of silver and grey which enfolds our winter, I want to experience a last intense saturation in colour.
This essay is part of a series which you can read here – they are my small acts of defiance against the dying of the light.
The Dark Months – Four
The day after Halloween. All Saint’s Day. La Toussaint. We give thanks and we remember. The act of memory seems to recall the ghosts of the past.
I close my eyes and breathe deeply.
Memories dance and ripple around a singular act of concentration.
Like the proverbial caged bird, my migration was to here, from there, in a flight where the choice was not mine.
I must live with this and go beyond anger. Breathe deeply.
Breaking free of the cage. Landing lightly in red, rust, orange, purple, gold, yellow, pink, green and brown. A liberated spirit.
The colours intensify the light, reflecting and remembering. Lost in the moment as guard drops, memory and meaning flood in. It’s sink or swim.
When you swim in layers of meaning, the membrane between death and birth, passing and arrival, the present and the past, become stretched thin and light permeates. From amid the fractal zoom of colours, an intrusive blade of angular symmetry comes into focus. Will it cut, or will it cure like salt in the wound?
That’s the thing you see. In this season, the changes are switch sharp. They slice into you, suddenly and without grace or favour.
A gust of wind, accompanied by a shattering shower of sharp, cold rain, jolts me back.
Open eyes. A sudden, sharp breath.
I am here. Looking down at a riot of colour on a pavement, a palimpsest of seasons past.
Like an echo in the bone, painful memories will diminish and dissipate. The leaves of seasons past will be shed, and new leaves will grow in their place. Give that great healer time its due.
The Dark Months is a series written during Autumn/Winter 2020 and 2021. I call them word paintings, or essays in mood. Sometimes they’re bleak, more often not. They’re my moment away from the mundanity of life under COVID.