Ask a dozen people at random what their favorite color is and the odds are excellent that not a single one of them will choose brown. Ask those same people about dessert, and chocolate--rich, beloved, brown chocolate--stands a good chance of topping the list. Go figure.
What is it about unassuming brown that makes it so easy to overlook? Perhaps it's simply ubiquity. Just glancing up from my keyboard I see countless shades and hues of brown: wood furniture, shelves, and light fixtures. The chair I'm sitting in is upholstered in brown. There are brown cardboard cartons on the floor, and the drapes are striped in brown. Outside, the soil is brown, as are the tree trunks and plant stems and rocks and buildings. We brown our steaks and our cakes and our bread. We drink brown tea and coffee, although we call it black. In fact, our world is permeated with browns, so much so that perhaps we simply take them for granted.
I'm such a color freak that I can hardly ever choose a favorite, but I love the richness of mahogany, the variegated browns of baskets, the hatched brown and gray bark of the white crepe myrtle trees outside in the yard, oak's golden glow, the elegant calligraphy of dark brown trunks against masses of bright leaves in season or drawn starkly against the sky in winter, my husband's strong beautiful hands, my daughter's eyes. Brown is logs burning in the fireplace, home, food, dogs, horses, the earth.
This week I finished two dolls, both for friends and both brown. The friar's brown robe is a traditional statement of modesty and humility and a vow of poverty and service. Teddy's brown fur is a promise of comfort and unconditional, completely non-judgmental love. Not too shabby for a color that's nobody's first choice. Maybe I'll look back on this as the beginning of my Brown Period. And maybe next time somebody asks you what your favorite color is, you'll pause for a second, just to look around and silently acknowledge burnt umber, sienna, caramel, cinnamon, teak, chestnut, mink, bay, sorrel, taupe, terracotta, and the rest of brown's gorgeous children, before making the safe choice . . . blue.