This week, I found myself seeking color to offset the tired-looking gray skies and drab olive green landscape that have dominated my runs, bike rides, and other activities. The colors I saw made me think about:
- How nature uses color to indicate how healthy or unhealthy plants and animals may be
- How one event can offset a chain of reactions affecting an entire environment
- How elements of light and water have the power to totally change any object they touch
In my quest for color, I noticed the weekend rain and warmer temperatures helped to add some brighter shades of green to areas of the yard and in local farmers’ fields. Though the orchard grass in my fields remained yellow and brown, the winter rye in neighboring fields has sprouted up to create patches of verdant green.
I also found a few moments of yellow sunshine and blue skies neatly tucked between large patches of clouds. The yellow of the sun and the blue of the sky was paler than those of the spring and summer seasons, but I was not complaining because they still brightened the day.
Since my area is not known for many winter-blooming plants, I turned my focus to the Christmas cactus and amaryllis growing in pots on my kitchen counter. The Christmas cactus was bought after it had bloomed, however, it adds a deep forest green color to my surroundings. It also appears to be healthy, overcoming the sad state it was in when I first brought it home to grow into a bushier plant.
The amaryllis has grown from a tiny sprout protruding from a bulb into a 24 inch tall plant with buds just starting to open into delicate white blooms. The bright green stalks of the plant appear healthy and vibrant, a nice contrast to the dormant grass and other plants outside.
Chain of Change
Since the winter solstice on December 21, my area has been gaining daylight in the evening hours, moving the official sunset time back a minute each day. Sunset today will be at 5:31, a full 33 minutes later than it was on December 21. This change has brightened my runs and bike rides, as well as the evening hours, except for days when cloud cover has been thick, making darkness fall earlier than actual sunset time.
I suspect the additional moments of daylight played a part in the sprouting of the winter rye in the fields. The deer are drawn to the tiny green shoots and can be seen grazing at dusk. Seeing the deer in their gray winter coats reminds me that once winter ends, their coats will turn bright rust and spring will bring life to the landscape with other new hues. This thought gives me hope that better, brighter days are to come, which also makes me feel more energetic.
The light feeds the rye, which feeds the deer, which feed the mind, which feeds the heart and soul. One event causes the next to occur in a sequence depicting the cycle of life through nature. All this happens because one ray of light breaks through the darkness.
The process of the light reminds me of a similar sequence in learning. We learn that letters make up words. We use these words to write or tell stories. These stories are passed down from one generation to the next, preserving history, cultures, and morals.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this process is the Bible. The letters on the pages make up words that tell us the stories of how God and His people interacted, how the actions of the people helped form the history of civilization, and how the people who came to know Jesus used his teachings to form the beliefs of Christianity. When we read these words, we learn we are not alone in our struggles to understand God’s ways and deal with changes around us.
Though the stories we read are indeed old, they are as relative today as they were when they were first written. Each of us may take away a different key aspect of these stories, but all of us learn something in the process. All this happens because one book written centuries ago helps convey the light through words.
Powers Seen and Unseen
Like the rye in the fields, the amaryllis on my counter benefitted from the light from the nearby window. Watching the shoot grow, I noticed it starting to lean toward the light. Every few inches the plant grew, it leaned more toward the light. I started rotating the pot to try to even out the growth and noticed the plant reacted by changing direction of its leaning stalks. The light was like a magnet, drawing the amaryllis up from the dirt.
Like the amaryllis, we often feel drawn to the light, seeking the sun to lift our mood or clear our head. Perhaps this is why light is used as a metaphor and a teaching mechanism in so many stories and songs. It is relative to all ages, cultures, and people. We all need the power of light for one reason or another, whether we recognize it or not.
Both the rye in the fields and the amaryllis also benefitted from the power of water. The rains that came down the past few days saturated the ground so the roots of the rye could soak up the water. Regular watering of the amaryllis allowed the bulb in the dirt to transport the nutrients in the soil through the stalks. The water combined with the light transformed the seeds of rye into tiny shoots and the bulb of the amaryllis into a blooming plant.
We also benefit from water’s ability to keep our bodies hydrated and clean. Though we may not feel as drawn to the water from a rain shower, we can still benefit from the rain, for it allows plants to grow, which in turn provides food and nutrients to our bodies. This may be why water is also used as a metaphor and a teaching mechanism in the stories we read and the songs we hear.
Light and water are two essential elements in nature. They act as the driving force behind the cycles of the seasons, the growth process, and the creative process used in forms of art. Every object touched by the light or by water is impacted in some way. The impact may be physical, mental, or spiritual; seen or unseen; simple or complex; or a combination of these.
Through my runs, bike rides, and other outdoor activities over the years, I have learned a lot about light and water. Some lessons were easy, others hard, but all were essential in order to continue upon the journey. I suppose this is why I am drawn to the outdoors, for so much of what I have learned and what I believe is rooted in nature. Observing nature’s changes has allowed me to change as well, though I often am not as quick to adapt as the examples I see in my surroundings.
I also suppose that I am indebted to light and water, as well as nature as a whole, for without them, the writer in me would not have much to share.
May the colors we see, along with the light and the water given to us, sustain us as we traverse the paths of life. May we recognize the value of simple things and nature’s ways as we help each other upon the journey.
Colors and Shades
Winter rain falling down
Helping to sustain the plants upon the ground
Along with the sun and the light
Sent from above in heaven’s skies
To keep life’s cycle turning around
Upon the earth as we go about
Finding and seeking
Reasons why and true meaning
In the colors and shades
Offering both shelter and escape.
In pale yellow and baby blue,
Grays mellow and olive hues,
Nature paints winter’s face
Upon the dormant landscape
To be transformed by the light
Through the blessing of the Lord in due time
Along with spring’s colors and shades
Made possible by the song of the rain.
Amaryllis white and tall
Listening to the light’s call
Through the window pane
As the clouds move throughout the day
And the moon rises in the night
Amid winter’s blue sky
Painted by the colors and shades
Made through the light and the water’s waves.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Winter blooming plants – https://www.houselogic.com/photos/yard-patio/winter-plants/slide/flowering-quince-chaenomeles/