Honey Loves Bea

Honey Loves Bea
One of the original Buttonface dolls

Thursday, May 1, 2008


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.


PJ said...

Theresa --
I am in love at first sight both with Brother Ben and Ted and we haven't even met properly yet. I believe your brown period is my favorite so far....

susanalbert said...

You've reminded me of the joy I had as a Brownie, Theresa--decades ago, in my brown uniform and Brownie beanie, feeling so grownup. And of all the colorful vegetables, I love potatoes most of all, so sturdily, stubbornly, nutritiously brown. Thank you for bringing brown out of the closet!

Hill Country Hippie said...

As a teen, my favorite color was purple, for whenever I wore it I always got compliments. When I had my midlife transformation and fell madly in love with gardening, green stole me away. First it was green touches around the house, then a few green fashion accessories, followed by a little green pickup truck, then a green Mini Cooper. Lately I have been obsessed with the beauty of natural wood grain. Maybe I too am entering a brown period!

Becky T. Lane