Ode to Orange

California Poppies

BY KIMBERLY MAYER

California Poppies

Chromatics, or colorimetry, is the science of color. This is not about that. Although to the extent that chromatics includes the perception of color, I guess it is, as color can affect both our moods and behavior. My relationship with the color orange goes back a ways. It wasn’t always friendly. It was, in fact, uneasy. Those were the years when if I had to name my least favorite color, hands down, it would have been orange.

I considered orange too assertive. I thought it attention-grabbing. Well sometimes that is just what is needed, and this is such a moment.

The US is the most heavily armed country in the world with the highest murder rate of any developed nation. Since 2021, guns have been the leading cause of death among our 1-19 year-olds. As I write, March for Our Lives rallies are occurring across the nation to advance gun control.

“We don’t have to live like this!” cried Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser at the largest rally of them all.

#WearOrange, how it began

One week, fifteen year old Hadiya Pendleton had the privilege of performing as a majorette in a band at President Obama’s second inauguration in Washington DC, 2013. The following week, back in Chicago, she was fatally shot on the playground of her school. To commemorate her, classmates at King College Prep High School started Project Orange Tree and began wearing orange shirts. Their actions helped to create National Gun Violence Day, and the color orange was championed as well by Everytown for Gun Safety. 

Orange demands to be heard and seen and offers a clear emergency and “don’t shoot!” message. Orange is for caution signs and cones, and orange for the vests worn by hunters in the woods to keep themselves from being shot by other hunters. 

Before #WearOrange, I worked on embracing the color. Remember I didn’t care for the color orange. I did it with plants in pots upon a deck. Plants were my color palette. I potted orange dahlia, lantana, viola and zinnia. I found that orange worked well with purples, and planted Salvia Maynight, a dark violet purple bloom. The greens grew in interest against the oranges, everything from emeralds to chartreuse and the deepest of greens. Then at my nursery I stumbled upon Nonstop Mocca Deep Orange Begonia with leaves so bronzed, they look black. It worked. I submerged myself in the color orange and I fell in love.

How had I misread orange so horribly? Today, in light of this crucial movement, I could paint the town orange. 

4 Comments

Filed under gun control, gun laws, orange

4 responses to “Ode to Orange

  1. Tug Yourgrau

    Kim, you offer us an unique and beautiful way to get into the subject of gun violence. Thank you, thank you. And by the way, I wear a lot of orange– cap, rain jacket, t-shirt. I like the energy of the color. And we will definitely look to get in some orange blooms to compliment the violets and blues in our new garden. I know Beth will be seeking and sharing with me your expert recommendations.

    And thank you for the lovely card for our 40th anniversary.

    Love to you and Paul,

    Tug

    Tug Yourgrau

    tugvoices.com http://tugvoices.com 617.797.9674

    [image: tugvoices.com] http://tugvoices.com

    • The garden has long been a sketchpad for me. After the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado I planted columbine plants in our beds on a terrace in Seattle. I loved the way the pretty little plants self-seeded, hopped fences, and began to appear everywhere. They’re still going, somewhere in Queen Anne, I’m sure.
      This time, I mean it, I could paint the town orange. So darn mad about this subject, I see red.

  2. Kim – very lovely indeed. I’m relieved that this is not an “Ode to His Orangeness” aka the man from whom elections are stolen.

    Despite the former president, I’ve always had a fondness for orange. For me, its vibrance elicits a simple, happy playfulness. I will gladly #WearOrange — especially if it helps eliminate the insane gun violence in our country.

    Your sense of color is always spot on. I remember you came up with the color scheme of our old house. You were standing under an oak tree and proclaimed lavender and green accents on a base of gentle Tuscan yellow. It indeed created the perfect setting for what we needed back then.

    You are a gifted colorist, artist, writer and gardener. But an even more wonder person.

    • Don’t worry, I try hard not to write about that man. That orangatang.

      I love how you have always known about orange! Interestingly, it’s the men in my live that are coming forward saying, “Hey, I’ve always liked orange.” To you all I say, thank you for your patience with me.

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