Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

Well, hello spring.

As of March 20, winter was officially over. Of course, we all know how that goes. In Maine, winter weather keeps going well past the calendar winter itself. One of our state’s many, many charms.

Even so, the vernal equinox marks a turning point, and it is starting to feel like it, too.

This winter we had a few impressive storms, a depressing amount of ice and one profoundly memorable cold snap, but all in all, it was fairly mild. That does not detract, however, from the eager welcome I feel for spring.

Yes, there is mud and yes, the bugs will soon arrive, but also yes, there is a lift to the air, a change in the light and the birdsong is back – and I am thinking about color.

Granted, there is a lot to be said for the winter palette. Stark white snow set against the dark brown of a bare tree, or the rich emerald green of a pine. It is quiet, serene, not to mention the perfect backdrop for the vivid blue of a jay in flight, or the heart-quickening red of a cardinal at the feeder. Winter is truly quite beautiful.


Nevertheless, it’s time. Time for nature to do its thing and bust out the delicate pinks of new buds, the bright yellow of daffodils, and the greens – so many greens. It will be welcome.

As a way to break the routine, the honey and I joined an online course hosted by Atlas Obscura all about the history of color. Over several weeks, we covered color from many angles. We looked at how the eye and brain perceives it, the varied meanings and emotional assumptions about what a color means and how those same meanings have shifted, or even reversed entirely over time.

We also explored how color is artificially reproduced and manufactured for use in paint and dye. The reality is that for much of our human history, the vivid hues we take for granted in our everyday items and surroundings were not even an option, except as they appeared in nature.

There’s so much I take for granted. Everything, absolutely everything in my day-to-day world, from my indigo scarf to my bright green wall is a shockingly recent possibility. In fact, it wasn’t until 1937 that the rebellious designer Elsa Schiaparelli gave us “shocking pink” and made our closets ever so much brighter.

Not coincidentally, many cultures have festivals of color right about now, or use color in specific, meaningful ways to mark the springtime.

Holi, the Indian festival of spring, is maybe the most vibrant as celebrants throw fistfuls of super saturated colored powder in all directions. By the end of the day, everyone is positively covered from head to toe in a riotous celebration of joy.

Across cultures, across faiths, across the borders of nations, spring arrives and fills our hearts with color and hope.

I hope this spring is greeting you kindly and that color is returning to your world too. Until it arrives for real, I’ll be poring over a garden catalog and tacking paint chips to the walls, making plans for the warm weather to arrive for real.

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