The color orange is probably my least favorite, of all the colors out there. I don’t really like most greens, either, though there are a few shades that are wonderful. Red is my favorite color, but not when it leans too far toward magenta. I like purples, but not when it has too much red. Going in the other direction on the color wheel, red can take some of orange’s influence before it goes bad. “Tomato” is a beautiful shade with just a hint of orange. “Barn red” has a bit more orange, plus some black or umber to deepen the hue. “Rust” is usually an acceptable orangey-red. The color that we used to call “Indian red” but that now has a much more politically correct name (that, alas, escapes me) is a nice, rich red-orange with brown undertones. That’s about as far as I like to lean, though, toward orange. It’s simply not a color I like.
When I was preparing for my first baby, we borrowed a bassinet from my mother. It was the same one she had used when all of her babies were tiny. It had a sturdy frame that could be folded up for transport. On top of it was a large woven basket with a handle that could be used to carry it, or be pushed down out of the way. There was a little oval mattress inside, and there were tiny drawstring sheets to fit the mattress. Wanting my new baby to have every advantage, I was eschewing pastels in favor of more stimulating colors. I had searched far and wide for baby yarns in bright colors, and had crocheted a baby blanket – one giant granny square, with a ruffled edge – using all the brightest shades of the primary and secondary colors. As a final statement, I bought three cans of spray enamel and painted the bassinet…bright orange.
Years later, I was bothered by the severely neutral space of the new townhouse we’d moved in to. Every wall was white. The tiled floors were beige; the carpets were all gold. Harvest gold. I decided to throw caution – and our security deposit – to the wind. I chose to paint one wall. I picked the wall that ran from the front of the house to the back. It started in the kitchen, behind the sink and sandwiched between brown cupboards above and below, and a gold counter top. It continued over a short wall with a serving counter on it, through the dining room and into the living room. I painted the wall orange.
Many years after that, when I was gardening here on Beaver Island, I had one troublesome flower bed. On the east side of the house, it didn’t get enough sunshine for many of my usual flower selections. I had daffodils there in the spring. In the summer, there was a clump of feathery periwinkle blue flowers, and some fluffy pale pink blooms. To round it out and bring it to life, to that bed I added a good number of upright phlox. With their distinct, sharp leaves, sturdy stalks and bold blooms, they were the perfect accent to the other flowers. The color I chose? Orange!
Sometimes, no matter how much I dislike it, orange fits the bill.