Not just a noun

This beautiful shrub almost leaped out at us. Corolla, North Carolina, September 2013

This beautiful shrub almost leaped out at us. Corolla, North Carolina, September 2013

“All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul. Purple is not just a noun and an adjective but also a verb – when you look at it, it’s looking back at you.” Uniek Swain*

I’m tempted to begin with Alice Walker’s well known quote about the color purple, but let us just say that I agree with those who think purple a remarkable color. I feel the same about most colors (I would never classify the others as “just colors”), but this never detracts from the singular beauty of the hue that happens to be in front of my eyes at the moment.

We came upon this enormous, lovely shrub in the historic village of Corolla, North Carolina, near Currituck Lighthouse. I could not remember ever seeing anything like it before, nor could Jeff. Can someone tell us what it is? Mike, perhaps you know?  I asked the other visitors around us if any of them knew what it was, and none did, though all agreed it was remarkable.  I’ve seen smaller versions of it before, but this one was taller than we are.

In any case, this plant stood out among many other varieties in a very lovely setting. As with some irises, the vivid purple and arresting form set it apart. It may not literally have been looking back at us, but its size and color did give it an animated feeling, as if it was there to greet us.  I wouldn’t exactly say that the color purple seems to have a soul, but I confess to being something of a synesthete who experiences a kind of character or personality to colors, and purple seems active rather than passive; almost a verb.

What are your favorite colors? Do any of them seem to you to have personalities? Or do you scratch your head and wonder about the sanity of those who think that numerals, letters, automobiles and other abstract or inanimate objects have qualities that connect to animate traits in our minds?  Either way, I hope these purple blooms brighten your day!

    1. (*This quote is widely attributed to Uniek Swain throughout cyberspace, but I have been unable to find anything about this person other than quote attributions. Readers are invited to enlighten me on this, too.)

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia! Thank you for bringing up this interesting topic on color. I looked up the visible spectrum and was reminded that violet and red are at opposite ends of that spectrum. As you know, red is close to infrared and heat energy. Although I knew purple is closer to ultraviolet, I hadn’t considered how perhaps it seems so alive because of the energy that reaches us from “purple” objects. If it is on the edge of our visual perception, are we also perceiving something just a bit beyond visual?
    Blessings on your day!

    • I would never have guessed that violet and red would be on opposite ends. It seems like they should be together, which they would be if the spectrum was made into a wheel, like the color wheels in art class. But your point is well taken. I think we only know a tiny bit about sensory perception in humans, and my suspicion is that it is much more extensive and layered than we tend to think.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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