Writing about yellow last time led me to musings on colors and memory. I have a section on color in Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World During a Ten-year Circumnavigation. Here’s an excerpt from that section. The yellow shark eyes refer to an incident described earlier in the book.
Swatches of color appear in my memory: a sunset-pink cloud of flamingos taking off then banking in the mid-day sun at Anegada in the British Virgin Islands; a cluster of azure butterflies at our ankles as if trying to guide my son and me so many years ago on a Colorado trail; the varying ocean blues hinting at their depth; the forty or so greens boasted of by Ireland and seen through raindrops, which painted those greens; the giant aquamarine gems of ice found within the glacier at Rhone and again in Alaska; the triple rainbows that I’ve seen outside Taos, in New Zealand, and from my home in Colorado; and, of course, those yellow shark eyes. My color images glow in quilt-like patterns prompted by some memory, some clue linking the past to what I see now.
Color often inspires our memories of specific places. There are many other references to color and its importance to a particular place or event in Voice of a Voyage. One of those is Uluru in the Outback of Australia and a sacred place for the Aboriginal people. One of the interesting aspects of Uluru is how it changes color in different light.
Sometimes the absence of color creates a powerful image. As I wrote in Voice of a Voyage:
Color patterns frustrated me as I tried to remember a specific fish: was it blue then yellow with white or was the yellow line first? And on that bird, was there a white eye ring? Sometimes memory fails rather than creating a picture, a quilt, a pattern. How much we depend on color to shape our images. Yet some of those old black-and-white films were all the more dramatic without the added shades: High Noon is the quintessential example. Then there is the child’s red coat in Schindler’s List, the one color in that remarkable, dark movie.
In Bhutan, my grandson, Ethan, and I were particularly moved as we walked along a foggy mountain pass with hundreds of white prayer flags honoring the dead quivering in the breeze and appearing as if part of the misty clouds.
What colors take you back to a special place when you were traveling and how does that affect your memory about it?