I think the most demoralizing thing about winter is, for me, the lack of colour. In April, we finally saw a few bulb flowers emerge – but things were so dull, rainy and cold, even tulips and crocus seemed reluctant to flourish. Flower boxes are being filled up outside of storefronts and that's great, but it's not until nature lets her hair down and goes crazy that the colours really make themselves known in the psyche.
All that rain did encourage more green, as it always does. And now – after several warm, sunshiny days, trees are budding, leaves are popping, and yellow has arrived in the form of forsythia and dandelions.
May is really good at making weather in my part of the world – the humidity hasn't arrived, the sky is clear and blue, flowers are fresh and perky and green is all rich and cool, tempting you to jump in and bathe in it.
Welcome back colour, I've missed you. Today you're beautiful thing number thirty-eight.
This post was inspired by a challenge put out there at Bluebirdbaby. It’s really a photography challenge (and do visit her site and check out her photographs, they’re really beautiful) – but my own personal focus is painting pictures with words – so I expect my finding things beautiful in winter will be expressed as such. Anyway – finding beauty in your day – it’s a marvellous way to get through these cold months, wouldn’t you say?
Yesterday, sitting on the bus, I start admiring the plethora of colours and cacophony of materials and shapes and styles in the winter gear worn by my fellow bus riders. It starts with two ladies sitting near each other, both wearing beautiful handmade knit hats with the braided tails down the sides – each hat standing off against the other in a competing collection of colour: reds and browns and purples and yellows and oranges. One lady’s knit braid has somehow got stuck up into the hat at her forehead I wonder how she hasn’t noticed.
Admiring the hats, I get thinking about the winter, and wild array of outer gear adopted by the masses of city folk – everyone wearing whatever it is they decide will help them brace against the cold and bear up against the dark, monotone months.
Scarves in plaids and textures, long and short, some with fringe, some without. Some wrapped up tight, covering faces; some slung in carefully haphazard knots around the neck to complement a look. Little kids, stiff-legged in their snow pants, have their fingers stuffed into their mittens wrong and their hats fall down over their eyes.
There are always bright coloured ski jackets with ski-slope passes still hanging from zippers; fur coats, wool trenches, parkas and pea coats; stylish coats and functional ones – some big and bulky – others painfully inadequate.
There are leather gloves, knit woollen mittens, fur lined ones, mismatched ones; a lost lonely one dropped unnoticed from some little hand as its owner’s mother manoeuvres a stroller out the door. Mittens with detachable ends so fingers can poke out and dial a phone or hold a cigarette.
Practical taupe coloured boots contrast with fun wellies in crazy patterns. There are riding boots, moccasin style boots, high-heeled boots, work boots and thick grey wool socks stuffed into soggy running shoes. Recently I saw a giant pair of mukluks with big furry pompoms like I wished I had back in the seventies.
Thrift shop chic finds, fedoras, Toronto Maple Leaf logos, red Olympic Team mittens, ear muffs and those crocheted hats girls are wearing on the backs of their heads. And always there are toques – toques for teams, toques with pompoms, toques sitting on the top of the head and toques pulled down over ears. Vivid and perky toques worn by expats and visitors, and worn, ratty old navy toques pulled out of the winter clothing box by a worker for yet another year because, why not? It does the trick.
Lots of pink – particularly cheeks and ears and noses.
Winter isn’t my favourite season but I do admire the wonderful disharmony of colours you find in a group of strangers getting through the season in a cold, often dreary city. In fact yesterday I was thinking it was really quite beautiful.