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Mack Williams: Easter’s royal maroon

Right after Valentine’s “red” left the “hallowed halls of Walmart,” the brief “bit o’ green,” consisting of Saint Patrick’s Day hats, deely-boppers, shamrock napkins, etc. was already being drowned out by the colors signifying Easter.

It might even be said that Easter had already “gotten its foot in the door” by having “hijacked” some of that shamrock green for use in the great bins of faux Easter basket grass. (A new, sheen-less variety has taken over on some store shelves. Of course, it’s fake, but it does seem that the least it could do is “manage a shine.”)

The many “netted” bags of plastic, screw-open Easter eggs (for placing of candy or money) displayed an amalgam of colors only seen in the palm of a sweaty hand after grabbing a variety of jelly bellies and consuming them together, not tasting them individually, like a wine connoisseur. (Just now, I can’t remember if President Reagan ate one flavor at a time; but being conservative, and a gentleman, I imagine he did.)

One plastic egg which seemed to stick out in the displays was “canary” yellow; and it did so because I saw a car painted the same color after the time Salisbury’s old W.T. Grants used to sell canaries. So I associated egg, bird and car (but in this case, the bird came first).

In dyeing Easter eggs, I learned what a short “dye time” could produce: all the colors of the rainbow (and the food-coloring bottles) but in their pale pastel tones, as if those eggs had been miraculously lifted up and out of one of Monet’s “Water Gardens,” still wet, before their colors had a chance to deepen.

Some of spring’s budding trees have the glow of pale green about them, while others have an aura of reddish-amber. It’s strange that these envisioned “coronas” have the look of what is produced by being too frugal with one’s wallet when it comes to the purchasing of a lens for a telescope or microscope. The cheap lens “rainbow” is a nuisance, and “You get what you pay for,” but not the case with Nature’s “halo.”

Where I live, the dogwoods seem to be slower in blooming this year; but maybe it’s just due to Easter being in late March, and not “springing as far forward” this year.

I always associate dogwood’s flowering with Easter’s approach; but some years, I have to satisfy my Easter sentiments with the idea of the tree being alive, just not budding yet, kind of like the expressed hopes on a tombstone.

This year, at least to me, another color has replaced dogwood’s white (or in some cases pink) as the harbinger of Easter: “royal purple” (not to be confused with the automobile lubricant of same name).

This color has currently beaten “dogwood white” to the punch; and I’ve seen it all my life! Catching sight of it the other day on US Highway 86 between Danville and Yanceyville brought back its presence in my childhood woods on the Old Concord Road, Statesville, North Wilkesboro, Boone, etc. In addition to its being spread temporally through my life, it’s physical existence actually covers over half of the “lower 48!”

The name by which this slight tree goes is “eastern redbud,” and it’s royal purple-pinkish-maroon color greatly predates Caesar’s royal robe.

Some churches get this color correct around Eastertime, when it comes their outside, cloth-draped crosses; while others, only “go for the blue” and miss the mark.

I call the redbud tree “slight” because it is as lithe as the dogwood, of which it is said the Cross was fashioned, afterwards being accursed into “spindliness” to prevent future re-crafting as such.

Both dogwood and redbud “step out” dramatically from their drab, later-budding fellows along the country highway this time of year, just as a chorister might step forward to sing his solo in the Easter Cantata.

Instead of springing from tiny branchlets, the redbud’s blooms flourish directly from the branch, so its flowers can be said to both spring straight from, and accentuate the plant vascular system, its “veins.”

Add the fact that the color of donated blood is “maroon,” and you have the perfect pairing of two natively-growing trees around  Eastertime: the flower of the one, long time seen as “the wounds,” the flower of the other, seen just now as “the blood.”

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