Shades of No More Gray

Spring in Seattle is all about color. I suppose that’s because we grow so accustomed to gray throughout the winter. The clouds sock in around November, and everything dulls. High clouds, low clouds, thunderclouds, fog, mist, drizzle, rain, sleet: we get way more than a mere 50 shades of gray.

When the sun finally does appear, as it did yesterday, we pretend to grump about it. “What’s that bright ball hurting my eyes?” we ask.

But really, we love the rainbow of colors painted by the sun: New grass a tender green. Diamond drops of water trembling on the ends of rose bushes now ruby, now emerald, now citrine. Gold crocus peeking out of the fields like doubloons washed up on the beach. But the most wondrous color of all is the red of a Pileated Woodpecker’s red crest, a red so red it defines the color itself.

I know because a male Pileated Woodpecker flew out of the swamp yesterday to perch in a cottonwood beside the Loop Trail. The long rays of the springtime sun bathed his head in light, and his head burst into flame. Living fire.