Lured by a large percentage coupon code in my email, I click through to one of my favorite clothing websites. A certain sweater caught my eye immediately. It was a classic, fair isle, all-wool pullover – something I knew that I would wear again and again. It was stunning and just my style. I hesitated. It wasn’t the price or the fact that I really didn’t need a sweater that had me second guessing the purchase. It was the color. Yellow. A very pretty, golden, almost butterscotch shade of yellow. The problem? I don’t wear yellow.
I turn my laptop so my husband could see the monitor. “Do you think I can wear this?” I ask.
He glances at it briefly and then turns back to his newspaper. “You can wear whatever you want,” he replied.
“But…will it look good on me?” I wonder out loud.
In my mid-twenties, I had some medical issues that were not responding to traditional medication. My mother suggested that I see her physician who also practiced acupuncture. On my first visit, Dr. Lo handed me a questionnaire to fill out. I answered questions about my favorite foods, my preferences of temperature and seasons, and my favorite hobbies among other things. When I finished circling answers and filling in blanks, I received my treatment and went home. The following week, before we started, Dr. Lo suggested that I might have better success in alleviating my symptoms if I made some specific dietary changes. As an aside, he added, “You need more yellow in your life.”
His statement struck me as strange, but I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time. Still, somehow it stayed with me. When contemplating a paint color for our living room, a friend suggested a buttery yellow. Normally, I would have dismissed the idea entirely. Then Dr. Lo’s words immediately popped into my head. Maybe yellow would work.
With a day off from work ahead of me, I bought two gallons of yellow paint. I taped off the woodwork and poured the paint into the tray. Paintbrush in hand, I hesitated. I worried that this gamble would not pay off and that I would be wasting precious time and money on a color that I would have to repaint. As I rolled the paint onto the walls, the room was slowly transformed before my eyes. No longer gray and drab, the yellow paint was warm and felt like sunshine on a cloudy day. I smiled and kept going. When the paint was dry, I pulled the tape down and stood in the center of the room, thinking about Dr. Lo’s words. Maybe I did need more yellow in my life.
Winter arrived late and hard this year. The furnace runs constantly, trying to keep the cold out of our old house. Our sweet dog, Hazel, usually anxious and excited for her daily walks, is slow to cross the threshold into the brisk air.
I get it, girl, I do. I don’t want to go out there either.
I pick up my phone to check the weather app: 8 degrees, feels like 0. Looking out the window, I am hoping against the odds. No sun in sight. I sigh. The gray is getting to me, wearing me out one day at a time. I put the kettle on and set about making tea to warm myself up. In the corner of the counters, I find a lemon. I slice it into wedges and squeeze the juice into my mug. The bright citrus packs a punch, leaving a pleasant zing in my mouth.
Fortified by a small taste of summer, I pull on my boots, wrap myself up in a long down coat, throw on a hat and gloves and walk the dog.
It’s snowing and school has been canceled again. I spend the better part of an hour cutting up a fabric color card into little tiles, each one a different hue. My daughter organizes the swatches in a clear divided box, putting them more or less in rainbow order. She comments, “I never knew there were so many shades of pink.” Neither did I.
I smile and pull out the swatch for “melon,” the perfect grapefruit-y shade for my next quilt. I shuffle through the remaining colors, looking for complimentary hues to round out the palette. Immediately, “ochre” jumps out at me. The deep gold almost glows and is beautiful with the warm pink. I settle on a couple more: “pesto,” a dark herbaceous green, and “roasted pecan,” a rich, orange-y brown. These are not my typical color choices of bright, clear blues and greens, but, somehow, they feel right today.
The three-day weekend has grown to six days. Outside, the snow is falling so slowly that I can count the individual flakes. The house is quiet for a short while before the girls are up, making breakfast and watching Netflix. After my shower, I consider throwing on sweats. But as I glance over the sweater shelf in my closet, I change my mind. I put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and then pull my new wool sweater over my head. I look in the mirror, surprised at how good this sweater makes me feel. I am still not sure that it looks good on me, but I know it is the right color. More yellow, indeed.
Words and image by Erin Harris.