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True Blue

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Why, when we were little, did we believe we had to have favorites? A favorite flower, a favorite dress, a favorite friend, a favorite color.

I suppose it was our way of defining who we are. If I can describe the things I like, perhaps I am seeing my own self.

Much was made of my blue eyes, when I was small, and my mother often dressed me in blue. Old pictures, now sepia-brown, show me as a serious-looking child with a huge floppy bow on the top of my blonde head. I can’t tell, but I think it was blue.

So when we moved into a new house and I was going to have the first bedroom I can actually remember from this distance in time, I was allowed to choose the wallpaper and I chose a pattern of little blue flowers. It was dainty and feminine and soon disappeared under a layer of horse and dog pictures.

When Dave wanted to give me an engagement ring, and I declined to accept a diamond he could not afford, I asked instead for a college class ring. He came across the receipt the other day, folded into a billfold in which he keeps documentation for the car.

I had to choose a color for the stone. Always careful to keep permanent fixtures neutral so they’d “go” with everything, I briefly considered black, but decided that would not bode well for an engagement ring.

Blue, I thought; my eyes are blue and will stay blue, so let the ring match my eyes.

The ring was lost through a hole in a suitcase in 1976. But we still have the receipt. He paid Balfour $25 for that ring, plus $2.50 tax.

What does blue mean to you?

Blue is the color of a checkered apron a friend gave me, a set of kitchen towels just right for wrapping bread warm from the oven.

Blue is a worn denim skirt, and the blazer that looks so right with everything. My favorite knit dress was electric blue, perfect for Advent, the church season marked with blue.

Blue is the color of the canvas tarps that shade the sailboats rocking gently at the dock.

Henry David Thoreau, it was, who said, “The bluebird carries the sky on his back,” and, oh, he does, he does. And did his sad warbling song name our sad songs “the blues”?

Nature loves blue, for she spattered the jays with several gaudy shades. She flecks with steely blue the indigo bunting’s wings and stripes with blue the skink that lives in my flower box.

The first tiny flowers in springtime are bluets, and soon behind them, almost too blue to be blue, come violets, and spiderwort and hydrangeas and chicory and – Dave’s favorite –  the wild vining morning glories momentarily reflecting the sky like round shards of mirrors. Bluest of all, late in the spring, the blue of bachelor’s buttons growing in the ditches.

I like the characteristics we assign to blue, learning early that in the flag, blue represents loyalty. What blue is loyal blue? Number 70075 in the official U.S. Standard color chart, that’s what.

I’ve always loved the blue of a policeman’s uniform, and wondered about the nuptial symbolism of “something borrowed, something blue.” The clear bright blue that’s come to be used on the Handicapped Parking sign – is it also a sign of trust?

My first grown-up bike was royal blue and one of my favorite cars was a 1961 Ford Falcon we had, in a breathtaking dark metallic blue.

Paul Newman’s eyes – now, there’s a blue!

The mountains that rimmed my school-girl world are Blue. And I guess I was one of but a gazillion teens who learned to play “Blue Moon” on the piano. Bump-pa-doo-da, bump-pa-doo-da, bump-pa-doo-da, bump-pa-doo-da, over and over and over again until my parents wanted to scream. Just as well I never aspired to “Rhapsody in Blue” or “Mood Indigo.”

We still make frequent pilgrimages to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Would it be the same by any other name?

John Ruskin, English writer, art critic and social reformer of the last century, believed blue to be divinely commissioned and “everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight.”

I suspect it’s God’s favorite color too, since our very life-force, oxygen, refracts the sky to blue.

Robert Frost agreed: “Why make so much of fragmentary blue / In here and there a bird, or butterfly, / Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye, / When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?”

But then Frost’s viewpoint was from earth looking up. He didn’t see the pictures we did, of  a blue planet gliding silently across an ocean of space.

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