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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Taupe times

Swiss Alps in February: taupe to the eye

Taupe is what the eye beholds when it sweeps down the mountainside covered in vines. The camera insists on capturing other tones and trying to hold those for us.

Three workers snip off the taupe older growth, leaving behind sharper and now more orange-tinted branches that will soon welcome the new growth.
click to enlarge

Taupe became a favorite color of mine when I was young and had just earned enough money to go out and buy my first frivolously expensive bit of clothing: silk stockings that shimmered and promised wonderful legs, in a package labeled "taupe". Impossible to resist.

From my vantage point, looking down, the legs were greatly improved by the taupe silk and it never bothered me that from a distance they might have been an odd contrast to my very white winter face. Taupe, like peach and ecru, is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Too pale to be brown, too lacking in cream to be cafe-au-lait, yet it is rich is calm, an unusual aspect of a color.

Taupe in Italy, Alaska and South Africa

Taupe has reappeared at odd moments, in curious places, over the years. Driving through Genoa, Italy, among buildings of bright southern colors designed to return the sun's kiss, my eye was caught by one tall building in soft taupe with white shutters. It was a haven for the eye in that playground of color. In Alaska in summer, where everything is large and powerful and colors are clear in the strong light, my first glimpse of Mount Denali showed me a mountain peak piercing in its whiteness but all the more beautiful for the taupe hills around it.

Years before South Africa had thrown off apartheid I rose very early in the morning from my hut in Kruger Park to the ever so soft voices of women singing together as they swept the dust from around the huts. Their voices could barely be heard, but the music haunted, and seemed to move along a tide of particles of earth, taupe and rich, rather than brown and dusty.

I wish Pantone would give us all an online look at its colors, but I can't see taupe anywhere on the company's site. Too bad for all of us.


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