A beautiful day in May! We’re at our local airport, and Werner is doing the walkabout check of his airplane for another flight to Tillsonburg. (See previous post, Que Sera). Meanwhile, I’m soaking up some spring warmth on the grass alongside the hangar, where bits of sunshine are caught among the grass blades, and darker green shadows slither in between as wispy clouds slide past.
The airplane lifts off, and the verdant meadow beyond the runway sinks below us. Thousands of drops of sunlight are spattered, dandelion-yellow, across the lush green grass.
My mind starts humming along with the motor. How would you accurately describe the colour of dandelions to someone who might never have seen one before?
Other things are “as yellow as…” say, lemons and sunflowers, sunshine and buttercups, butter and egg yolks, sulphur and ochre, yellow tang fish and fuzzy chicks.
My paint box contains a tube of “lemon yellow.” Most of us likely know what lemons are and look like. Yet, the description may be a little vague– or even presumptuous! The fresh organic lemons in my fridge closely match this hue, but does the wrinkly old one at the back, with a touch of “yellow ochre” or even “umber” on it, still qualify as “yellow as a lemon”? Paint colours referring to objects ought to be more specific: “fresh lemon yellow” vs. “mellow lemon yellow.” Ok, that’s a euphemism, but maybe you can visualize it, even without taking a whiff of the acrid odour!
As children, we usually crayon a huge yellow orb for the sun at the top of our paper (high in the sky), above clouds drawn in blue. But does the sun actually ever look yellow (or gold or orange), other than during sunrise, sunset, or sandstorm? I’ll need to check the internet for metaphors about yellow when I get home.* But now, I’ll enjoy the views below:
Plowed fields are light brown, with drainage areas and creeks tracing green outlines of snakes and other creatures across the flat earthy-ochre landscape. Forests, laid out like shaped canvases, have every shade of green (including yellow!) daubed on thickly in a pointillist technique. Towns are clustered on highway corners, houses half hidden now in the lush foliage of trees. The pale blue hue at the horizon deepens as my eyes move upward in the sky. I can think about cerulean blue, azure, or even cobalt blue high above, but that’s for another day.
Whispy white clouds are travelling on ahead of us, but now the familiar runway and cluster of hangars of Tillsonburg airport come into view. Werner flies across, turns downwind, base leg, and final. Time for lunch. I think I’ll enjoy golden (“yellow”) fries with that hamburger!
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* Searches for metaphors, or colour names for “yellow” on the internet yield tons of examples. There are poems based on colours, and some of my favourite clichés pop up too. Scholarly and scientific articles discuss language and comparing languages, emotional connotations, physical perception of light, colour, pigments, and more. Manufacturers of artist paints, and associations that regulate them, offer lists of numerical and named product descriptions.
Did you know that someone gets paid to come up with evocative or enigmatic names for home décor colours? Check out store colour cards or paint chips for a writing stimulus. At last I found a paint chip that seemed to match the dandelions I wanted to describe. It was named Yellow!
Use your imagination!