Wa-to-to: Shades of Blue, Shades of Green

Coast Watches: Twelve Meditations

Prior: Meditation on a Light Pole So Insistently Blocking my View of the Sea

December 21

My ocean has become Greeny-Greeny Woman again. No longer Bluey-Bluey Woman. Winter has come, and with it the ocean color-shift from deep blue to teal to dark jade.

In some cultures such distinctions are unimportant. A single word can refer to the whole blue-green color range.

The Lakota call both blue and green to; to-to means very green or very blue. On the Great Plains, the few lakes and rivers they encountered were either clear or muddy. They didn’t have to deal with the ever-changing ocean.

As a child, I can remember arguing with my mother about aquamarine. I said it was a shade of blue, she said it was a shade of green. I finally realized that arguing was pointless, because my mother saw no distinction between blue and green. Navy was navy, but everything else in her world was green.

Elsewhere, many color distinctions are made. A French tapestry company offers 12,000 color designations. I understand. I need a thesaurus to name those I see.

Green sea, blue sky. In winter the sea here is green, not blue, as I had been taught: “In 1492 Columbus sailed the sea so blue.” Nor is the sea wine-dark, as in Greece.

Elsewhere, in Hawaii and Bermuda and Puerto Rico, those beaches may be washed year-round by aquamarine and pure blue seas, but not here.

Here the sea is winter-green. Grey-green, teal green, jade green. Sometimes the sea is grey. Grey-green, grey-teal, grey-jade. I will have to make a new Ocean Waves quilt, one with satins and metallics in all these new shades.

Wa-to-to: very green, then very blue.

Next: Living on Lava

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