Like fragments of heaven

Fall is approaching, but nature is still putting on a show.
I photographed these flowers at home or nearby, September 2019

“It is strange how deeply colours seem to penetrate one, like scent…They look like fragments of heaven.”George Eliot

I’ve always marveled at how some scents can bypass the conscious mind and go straight to memories we didn’t even know were there. Until I read this quote (from one of my all-time most admired fictional characters, Dorthea Brooke of Middlemarch) I had never thought about how colors do the same thing, but I agree that they do.

The varied greens of woodland settings are always a balm to my spirit, restful and calming. The jewel tones of fall are rich and evocative, and the subdued colors of winter, especially with snowfall, speak of silence and temporary repose. When springtime bursts forth in a seeming riot of new blossoms, my spirit awakens and feels hopeful. And the summer colors, both natural and man-made, seem full of lighthearted fun, with sun umbrellas and beach towels and Popsicles in a rainbow of vivid hues.

I think color can be therapeutic, especially for a tired or discouraged spirit. Yet I seldom deliberately seek out its palliative benefits, other than as a perk of pastimes that incorporate color, such as gardening, crafts or other creative pursuits. Perhaps when I’m feeling blue and it’s too stormy for gardening or too late in the day to start a craft project, I should make it a point to sit down with a book of beautiful artwork, or travel photographs, or perhaps a few of the old calendars I can never quite bear to throw away because their pictures are so gorgeous.

Do you ever seek out color for the purpose of lifting your mood? What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy the endless hues that light up our days? I wish you a colorful week this week, with many visual surprises to brighten up your world.

36 Comments

  1. Chris

    Hi Julia!
    You must be right; color is definitely mood enhancing. Remember when TV and motion pictures first came out in color? They were billed as “living technicolor”, or something like that. It was a big deal.
    I’ve heard the phrase ‘color my world’ used to describe relationships. Perhaps now I understand that a bit better. 😊
    Wishing you a colorful week as well!

    • Thank you, Chris. Yes, color TV was a big deal. I can remember my fourth grade teacher asking if anyone in the class had a color television (very few families had one in the early days, at least at my school). Two students raised their hand and the teacher asked them about some news or broadcast story; she wanted to know what color the woman’s dress was. Walt Disney’s TV show was called “The Wonderful World of Color” but most of us watched it in black and white until color TVs become affordable.

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. I love to get lost in the beauty of flowers on Pinterest. I have a board “ This Flower Bud’s For You” where I’ve collected some favorites. Back to 428, just this morning I admired the beauty of a Coleus that has overflowed it’s pot, thanks to Bill’s faithful fertilizing. The vivid colors of lime and burgundy are stand outs even without bloom. For some reason, I find any white blooms to be so cooling on any given hot southern summer day. Maybe we could enjoy looking at our beautiful colorful landscapes from the shade of our Verandah with a cool drink in hand! 🍹🧡

    • Sheila, that sounds good to me! We are finally having a cool day today, but I don’t know whether it will last through the week. I just love Coleus but I have never had any luck growing them. I wonder whether they do better in containers? They really are stunning and I’ve been amazed at the variations of them I’ve seen. I didn’t know you were on Pinterest…or maybe knew but just forgot? Next time I’m over that way, I’ll have to look you up! I have to use great restraint about going on Pinterest because it’s the website where I can easily squander the most time! I saw where someone called it “digital hoarding” and I thought, well, digital hoarding is better than the other kinds!! See you on the Virtual Verandah, where we never need to sweep anything off or hose anything down. 🙂

  3. September rain has come to Vancouver, mingling with the last days of summer blooms. After a summer of heat and little rain, our gardens have become green again, almost like spring. One of my favourite poets says it the best:

    “And I rose
    In rainy autumn
    And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
    Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems

    • I love that quote from Dylan Thomas. I’m unfamiliar with his work, other than his justly famous villanelle “Do not go gentle into that good night.” I read once that Bob Dylan said that he had chosen to name himself after Dylan Thomas when he changed his own name. I need to look Thomas up sometime and read some of his other poems. I think Canada has the most glorious gardens I’ve ever seen anywhere. I imagine Vancouver is gorgeous at this time of year. Hope you have a lovely autumn!

      • Vancouver is under rain right now, but it is a refreshing feeling. Several years ago we visited Dylan Thomas’s home in Wales. I thought you would like to read my post. I had almost forgotten about it!

        https://ontheroadbookclub.com/2013/09/19/the-song-of-the-mischievous-dog/

        I love our conversations!

        • Thanks a million for directing me to that post – I loved it! What a gifted 11-year-old he was. I was interested to read of the comments by others, especially his uncle 😀 and I had no idea he knew Richard Burton and the poet Seamus Heaney. Definitely one more reason I want to visit Wales someday. Yes, I love our conversations too…I learn so much from you and from others here in the comments section!

  4. It may border on semi-obsessive, but I take a bit of time choosing what colors to wear daily. Even though I no longer go to a paying job, I feel impacted by clothing’s transformative effects–most of all, the colors. Some days are purple days, some are blue, some are tangerine or heathered grey, etc….or a lively or subdued print. Hues and tones with subtle nuances and vibrancy are powerful stuff.
    But I also save calendars for pictures!–and tear out pictures from magazines to file for art work or writing inspiration). I am outdoors daily, usually with my camera, and that is my biggest stimulus. I study– as you have here with lovely flowers–all those interesting colors/textures/ forms. I also enjoy various art books, and watercolor paints to play with. I love painters’ works; Mark Rothko gets to me with his pure colors!–but i enjoy so many out there.
    Love your quote, Julia.

    • Cynthia, I think that’s great that you are mindful of the colors you wear. I tend not to think of it as much when choosing what to wear, but I pay more attention when I am buying clothes. I notice colors worn by other people quite a bit, and some people definitely have a knack for dressing with artistry. I am glad to learn that someone else saves calendars! I have a friend who paints, who recently told me she keeps a file of calendar pages to use as inspiration. I thought maybe I should give her some of my old ones. I agree that the camera is a great stimulus (at least for me) in helping me to look more closely and see things I might miss without it. Are we not lucky to have both the time and the seemingly endless ways to explore such delights? I’m happy you like the quote. Middlemarch is such a great story and Dorthea Brooke is a hero in my eyes.

  5. Good morning, Julia!
    When you mentioned magazines and travel photos, my mind immediately went to a box of old National Geographic magazines, and how I loved to get my hands on one as a child. Most magazines didn’t hold much appeal for me, but I felt like I was entering into boldly colored new worlds as I stared at the amazing photography. I don’t need to wonder if those magazines might have been inspiration for my love of travel and probably of photography, too. It also wouldn’t surprise me if my delight in other cultures was fueled by those same magazine photos.
    Colors so vivid you can almost taste them. Yes, fragments of heaven.

    • Ah, yes, those old National Geographics! I can’t resist posting a link to this meme – I’m not sure whether it will work, but if so, I know you will appreciate it as much as I did. I loved almost all magazines when i was a child (at least the ones of general or female interest) but none were more fascinating than those National Geographic. Other than Reader’s Digest, they are perhaps the most hoarded frequently saved collections of any magazine. And yes, they certainly did whet the appetite for travel AND for photography. When you think of it, they intersected with so many subjects — history, geography, anthropology, astronomy, travel, photography, even literature at times. Sometimes they would even include full sized maps, and I think that was where I got my fascination with looking at maps which I still have to this day, even with GPS and satellite directions. Probably one of the nerdiest things I do is sit and look at an atlas for fun. Almost as bad as reading the dictionary, which I’ve also been known to do…

      • Oh, yes, the maps! National Geographic was wonderful for the maps, which took me away to exotic places, just like the amazing photographs.

        • I’m glad to find out that you also are a map nerd. I’ve found that some people love maps quite apart from their functional use, and others never go near them even when they might be useful. Jeff was in the latter group, which was a mystery to me.

  6. Julia,
    Great post. Each of our senses brings us into nature and nature into us. Whether by sight, sound, smell or touch. Only with each fully operative can we appreciate God’s natural law completely which He imparts through them to us and thereby rightly fashion our lives. He constantly offers us His peace through His creation. That is why He made man last. For all else had to be readied for His best work.
    -Alan

    • Thank you, Alan. Despite all of the problems in this world, it isn’t so hard to believe that it was originally intended to be a perfect paradise. We are fortunate that so much beauty remains to bless us every day, all we need to do is be aware of it. How sad to think of a valuable gift that remains unopened and disregarded. I suppose that’s a good analogy for those who don’t take the time to appreciate the splendor. It sort of reminds me of Alice Walker’s famous quote about the color purple.

  7. Harry Sims

    I’ve often wondered why God of my understanding made everything so beautiful?

    I suppose He just couldn’t help Himself!

    Harry

    • Harry, I think that’s probably true. It reminds me of what Pi Patel said about God at the end of the novel Life of Pi.

  8. mike c.

    I have really enjoyed the amazing coleus here, in all their splendor though Like you i have little success with these brilliant annuals. Another plant that gets me is a tall purple flowered beauty that is Rigelia? It almost looks like a tall grass- two to three feet. Also have enjoyed the Lantanas in bloom here. I could go on. Something like that -I first saw these at Gibbs garden and I hope to get back there once more as this week is the Monet Water Lilly festival.n And now it seems- some kind of Magnolia is in bloom?? We did get some pink – Vincas to grow and I don’t see these out west.

    • Mike, I wonder whether you could be thinking of Wiegela? We have one that was really pretty for many years, but they get totally out of control and now it’s so big I might just get rid of it. It requires too much maintenance and this year it hardly flowered at all. It’s almost 15 years old so maybe it has reached the end of its best years, although the azaleas and camellias seem to get better and better. The Wiegela does have the bright pink cone-shaped flowers that hummingbirds love. I’ve never had any luck with Lantanas, even in San Antonio where they practically grow like wildflowers. I have one in a pot here and it was beautiful when I got it but it’s fading fast. Wow, a Monet Water Lily Festival sound perfect! I don’t know of any fall-blooming Magnolias but the gigantic Magnolia we had when I was a kid (huge white flowers) seemed to have a long blooming season. My Vincas have really taken off and look wonderful. Wish I could send you a picture. They cover one end of one of my mulched beds.

  9. mike

    No not a Wiegala. The foilage is more like a tall grass. Almost looks like a bamboo. And the plants are kind of tall- 3-4 feet. Next time I get to Pike’s I will check it out. With some fall color coming in the Japanese garden at Gibb’s is supposed to be spectacular. My morning glories are about done for the season.

    • I just love those Japanese Maples. My next door neighbor at York County has one, and I planted a small one at the northern Virginia home but it didn’t grow very well. I’ve always wanted to try Morning Glories. Have you had pretty good luck with them in the Georgia heat? The climate here is not as hot in the summer and a bit cooler in winter so I don’t know how they’d do here.

  10. mike c.

    They might do well here. And I am amazed that the Hostas do so well here in the heat,but I think they need to be sited in the partly shady places. I was at Pike’s nursery in Town Lake yesterday and could not find that plant,but they had another purple beauty called Plestarchus with dark green foilage I like to look at their baskets and get some ideas and now they have all the fall mums in stock. I did not realize that purple is such a rare color in nature and of course there are the purple asters in abundance.
    The morning Glories did really well and are still setting a few blooms and some are purple.

    • Our best hostas ever were in Memphis while Jeff was in dental school. It’s hotter there than anywhere else we have ever lived except Texas, but yes, the hostas were in total shade, surrounded by trees. Way back during the first year of this blog, I did a post about the color purple in landscape. I am hoping for some purple blooms on my wisteria over the pergola. The plants really took off in the few months since they were planted, but so far no blooms. Do your morning glories have different color blooms on the same plant? Or did you plant several different ones? I’ve never seen any morning glory plants to buy, only the seeds, and I never seem to have any luck growing anything from seeds.

  11. mike c.

    There is a new film out about Tolkein and I think that is the title. I guess it is a biography and he and a group of friends at Oxford and their experiences in WW1. I remember reading the Hobbit in high school -I think. He was taken with philology from a young age and invented his own languages, and learned Olde Englishe. You might like it and was he not also involved with Lewis at some point? The film does not bring that out.
    Interesting point from Scrocese that most of the new Comic character films are not really cinema but more Disney like creations of fluff..

    • Yes, Tolkien and Lewis were close friends, though not until adulthood. Tolkien was influential in Lewis’conversion from atheism to Christianity, and scholars have called Lewis “the midwife” of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, because he encourage him during the writing of the series, and helped Tolkien break through some of his problems getting the stories finished. So their friendship was not only mutually beneficial, but also changed literary history. Interesting comment from Scorsese about comic characters. I know almost nothing about the comic book empire and all its sub-cultures, so I don’t have any opinion of whether he is right in his observations. But of course it’s easy to imagine that, compared with Scorsese’s brilliant though profanity-laced and graphically violent works, almost anything would seem like fluff.

  12. mike c.

    Amazingly, I started these from a seed packet. Different colors on the same plants, but I put like six seeds in one place and trained them up a metal crooks next to the apartment. I started them inside. They are tough little plants almost done now. I will see if I can find a pict.
    Some local maples are looking really nice. Hope to get up to Mercier orchard at Ellijay. Did you ever get to the apple festival there? I think it is next weekend.

    • So how early do you start them indoors? I am getting some nice flaming red in the trees just off my back yard. I see them through all my back windows, and my deck and patios. My older brother lives in Ellijay, but i have never been there nor attended the apple festival. But I have had some of the apples, and they alone would be worth the trip!

  13. mike c.

    I start them in April- soak overnight ,then wrap in a wet paper towel and put in a cup and after germination into a small amount of potting soil in a plastic tray inside for a couple of weeks. Then outside. However , I had no luck with sweet peas or sunflowers this year. I finally got some sweet peas to germinate and now they are about 5 inches tall and in an outside pot. Will they make it? I doubt it

    • Mike, I need to jot down these notes and put them in my calendar in case I find some morning glory seeds in the spring. I have never been able to get sweet peas to grow from seeds, though I used to live near gorgeous fields full of them in Lompoc, California, where they were grown for the flower seed industry. Good luck keeping yours alive indoors. If you can manage to help them survive the winter they’ll be perfect for transplanting in the springtime.

  14. mike c

    The morning glory is setting seeds and I think I will just let them drop where they may.

    • Good luck — let me know if you see results in the spring. I have quite a few plants that are considered annuals that do come back, and I’m told that they likely are not the original plants surviving the cold, but new ones that were self-seeded the previous season.

  15. mike c.

    The little sweet peas are fading and need to come inside, but i am not sure that is really possible. It was 35 out yesterday AM.

    • WHOA, 35 already in Atlanta! We dipped just below freezing one night last week. It seems that we went from summer directly to winter. I hope we have a few more weeks of autumn in store.

  16. mike c.

    Yesterday I was trimming one of the morning glories and took off a few seed pods and went to stick them under the pine straw and guess what? Some seeds have already sprouted there with little one inch high plants. So definitely self seeding and there may be morning glories here for a time at (address removed for privacy).

    • WOW how totally cool! I simply must try to grow some next year. I need to read up on when to plant them outdoors. I wonder if your new seedlings will survive the winter?

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