Green, Man

Green has always been my preferred color.  (Orange runs a close second, but that’s another story.)  I’ve often wondered why green clothing is hardly ever worn.  Military association?  I think this would be positive, not negative, but perhaps it is a taboo of sorts.  Beau Brummel probably ruined green at some point, drawing associations with grocers or Irishmen.  We remain cursed—and strangled—by his followers’ prejudices.  Augusta hasn’t helped much either.  (Golf courses are yet another story.)

Dark green is a stunning color for men’s clothing.  I have a friend whose wife made him an emerald-to-evergreen colored winter suit of superb wool she bought in northern India.  Another friend appeared at a summer wedding in a very pale sherbet green Cerutti suit—he was a big hit.  And why on earth aren’t there green denim jeans?  Could it be that the Union army veterans wanted to wear the same colors as their uniforms?  Or is it a deeper taboo, the association of green with jealousy or envy?  After all, the “green man” of pre-Christian Europe was a potent symbol, and perhaps a rival to Jesus. Also, light green is the holy color in Islam—its image of the light of paradise.

I pondered this deficit back in the late 1980s when a uniquely pretty shade of mid-green was the dominant fashion in young women’s winter stockings in Holland.  Tights color is a fashion “lingua franca” there. Every two years or so the stockings change from blue to pink to purple to rose and so forth.  Late 80s—green for several years, and I recommend it.

I suppose green was a very important ancient color, up there with red.  Blue is rare as a dye, so I’ve read.  But green is much wider in variation, and truly the dominant garden color.  However, blue denotes royalty and aristocracy.  It must have involved the juju about the unusual eye color, combined with the rarity of the dyes and the color of uncut blood veins.

Lime green is one of my favorite colors, certainly unusual in nature, very becoming on the dinner plate and half the fun of a gin and tonic. Until recent kidney problems, green food was pretty much “it” for me.  Years of day-by-day spinach, broccoli, green beans.  My mid-life crisis mantra was “Who moved my collards?”  My first bike was a metal flake lime green Schwinn 3-speed.  First car, fifth car and fifteenth car were green.  It’s a pretty car color.

Also, my enormous lawn is green.  I love it, it’s my favorite part of Fordhook Farm—I have to confess.  I exhale, so to speak.  But that’s a completely personal emotion.  I admire no one else’s lawn, while I adore discovering other people’s gardens. In fact, if I visit someone who has a better lawn, I get mildly depressed.  Green with envy!  Therefore, green is the color of self-reflection, in my opinion.  A lawn defines the personal space of one’s property, like a ruler might measure its size or a scale its weight.  I was told lawns began historically as gaming surfaces, perhaps originally from the Middle East, via trade and the crusades.  Maybe so, but it would have been an accidental birth to one of our landscape’s great beauties, conjuring up the peace of heaven and a farmer’s pastoral fulfillment.  A great lawn allows the eyes—and the entire face—to relax.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 8:58 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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One Response to “Green, Man”

  1. Susan Wallace said:

    You did not mention the ancient English personification of verdant Nature, the Green Man, who appears in medieval church decorations, nor Sir Gawain and the Grene Knight, a wonderful medieval tale of the apparition of this powerful spirit in Arthur’s court, who has engaged the imaginations of many folk, both high and low.

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