Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Greening of The Crooked Little House

After countless days of wind and rain, I awoke one morning this week with a feeling like my house had been dropped Oz style, over the rainbow into another world, sunlight flooding the bed covers and a hundred shades of green coloring every leaf and bud outside my door. No wicked witch lurked underneath the foundation and to the best of my knowledge, no Munchkins were hiding in the bushes. But the Green Man had definitely returned to my island.

I have two architectural elements in the form of Green Men on my hearth, flanking my fireplace, a splurge I made a few years ago. They are large and made of heavy stone with hollowed eyes and oak leaves sprouting out of their strong faces. The story is, they used to adorn an old house on a rather large estate. I have always loved the idea of a nature god that represents man's longing to get back in touch with the natural world. The earliest known example of the Green Man, or Jack in the Green, is from 400 AD, and they are more common in northern Europe where they adorn churches as well as other buildings.

In Celtic folklore, the Green Man is the god of spring and summer, when plant growth is at its peak. Because he disappears and reappears year after year, he is also thought to represent the spiritual theme of death and resurrection. Even Sir Gawain, the Green Knight, is considered to be the image of the Green Man from the Middle Ages. He wore a green helmet, green armor, carries a green shield and sat atop a green horse. When decapitated, one story says he came back to life the way spring brings new growth. And the Green Man still lives at TCLH.

Forgive me for not knowing a lot about plants. I try, I really do, but there are just so many of them. I consult my books but when I find no results that satisfy me, I decide to just enjoy what appears, trusting that each one has its own purpose in the whole scheme of things. And no two are sporting the  exact same color of green, ranging from Sap Green to Cobalt Turquoise, to Kelly Green, to Viridian, to Thalo Green, to Hooker's Green, well, you get the idea. So today I offer up a palette of greens flourishing in my little yard where happy little bluebirds fly.

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."            
 John Muir


  1. 1859,the pigment"veridian"(green)was patented,and was used by Vincent van Gogh!

  2. They should have kept that spelling since it is more appropriate. Check out this book, I think you'd enjoy it:
    Color, a natural history of the palette, by Victoria Finlay It's one of my favorites.

  3. Weeds seem to be Nature's band-aids, for bare areas, in my yard...happy trails

  4. They are beautiful though don't you think? By the way, Happy Trails is one of my favorite phrases of all times! Must be telling my age.