September 1, 2008
Certain color combinations carry with them specific associations emblazoned from an event or a moment from the past. For me, the most powerful and happy duet are purple and green. That’s got to be one of the many reasons I always feel so peaceful when I’m strolling in the local lavender fields. Another is that the scent of lavender is purported to be naturally calming. I think if I became any more calm in my daily life however, my friends might be alarmed enough to check for a pulse.
It started sometime around 1980. I lived in Manhattan, and back in the days when you could get across the country and back for $99, I visited a friend in San Francisco. She was a few years older than I, and lived in what was, on reflection, an unremarkable apartment in the Sunset area. At the time however, coated from the grittiness of New York City, I was convinced that I had landed in some sort of urban nirvana, enveloped by a strange new hipness shrouded in fog and incense and carrot cake and a rolling ocean slamming against one side of the town and a million other things that were utterly different from the mundane familiarity of the east coast.
Most striking to me was that my friend would set her table with forks, knives and spoons sporting alternately purple and green plastic handles. Why I thought this daring at the time I’ll never know, but there you have it. It was different and it was beautiful and it was beautiful because it seemed exotic and it seemed exotic because so much of the west coast seemed that way to this NYC kid. My friend, and her foggy apartment with the colored flatware, represented freedom to me, and offered a tantalizing view to what my budding life might become. Adding to the color theme mystique, she even had a set of Taylor and Ng coffee mugs that matched, painted with a pastoral scene of rolling purple and green hilltops.
Soon after I returned to Manhattan after that trip, I found the same mug and bought it.
This morning, 28 years later, I drank my coffee from it, as I have so many times before.
And later this afternoon I took a visiting friend to the lavender farm in the middle of San Juan Island. My life, from east to west, from purple to green, and with an ever growing sense of freedom, had come full circle.