Being Green

Art and essay
by Mo Conlan


There are specks of paint on most of my clothing, on many of my dishes, on the floor and mantel. They are stubbornly annealed to their surfaces – latex paint does that – and sometimes I have to use a dental pick to remove them.

Oddly, very few specks are green. Odd because green is my favorite color. As an artist, though, I’ve found it’s the most difficult color. Nothing captures the green of Mother Earth. The thousand shades of green in Ireland. I put the paint on and it seems dull, or neon, not as exciting as the real thing.

I have green eyes. Historically, green eyes might have branded me a witch. That along with my black cat. (Where were colored contact lenses when women really needed them?) But I also like to think that green eyes were a sign, in Celtic society, of a woman who knew how to heal, a spinner of tales, a warrior, or even head of the clan. Celtic women were freer and more powerful than in other cultures, centuries before American women got the vote.

I love the crystalline, nearly lime green of my cats’ eyes – the shiny, olive-black pupils at the center. Their eyes seem wise and knowing. I wonder, though; the little guys are so easy to fool with tidbits of wet food that I lure them down the basement with when I have company. They love a good party and feel free to take center stage. Still, they fall for the food lure to the basement every time.

Maybe it’s not a lack of intelligence, rather security in their desires. Usually, they only get dry food. And who am I to point a finger at my cats. They don’t have jobs. Of course food is a motivator. Before retirement, the prime motivator getting me out of bed was work. Now, it is the prospect of Autumn Harvest cereal with slivered almonds and 2 percent milk on top, plus lots of dark, rich coffee.

But I digress from my topic.

I love the green of emeralds. I am too messy and too busy to wear jewelry. If I had emeralds, though, I would make time. There is nothing prettier than the deep green of a little girl’s velvet party dress with white lace color. I had one when I was a girl.

Perhaps my favorite green, though, is the almost imperceptible hint that begins to halo trees as winter gives way to spring. I would speckle my entire house with that shade if I could capture it.

And I cannot speak of green without mentioning the Green Movement. I am taking steps in this direction. My dryer quit and instead of buying a new one right away, I hung my clothes on an old-fashioned folding gizmo to dry. That is less idealism than laziness – not wanting to shop for a new one. Still, I am greener than I was last year. And if I squint, I think I can see those halos beginning around the trees.

Ideas about green?

After Green, return to home page.