September approaches, and all I see, is yellow. Meadows filled with goldenrod and rudbeckia, lawns dotted with dandelions, and fields filled with the bright faces of sunflowers. Goldfinch bopping from stem to stem gathering thistle seeds. There are dots of white from Queen Ann’s Lace and purples from early asters, Joe-Pye-Weed, and echinacea. But I see yellow. Even the small leaves of the locust are losing the blue from their green and spin to the ground.
In the north, it’s a week out from the start of the school year bringing with it brand new yellow #2 pencils with no teeth marks sunk in them yet and fat fluorescent yellow highlighters. The classic sight of yellow school busses stopping to pick up children. Although this year, perhaps not. Yellow announces a change in the human-created season.
Butterflies and bees are working like mad to gather any nectar left in flowers, readying for their last days in the warm sun before the air turns crisp and sweet as autumn enters.
My birthday always falls around Labor Day. Yellow is the color I associate with my birthday and childhood, but it’s not my favorite. My mother’s yellow station wagon that we had forever. Kitchen yellow was one of my grandmother’s favorite colors and always brings her to mind when I see the shades that arrive this time of year. Kitchen yellow is a touch more golden than a sunny or lemon—a little more royal. The yellows filling the background of the world bring out my favorite color, purple.
Vincent Van Gogh painted such beautiful sunflowers and said of yellow, “How wonderful yellow is! It stands for the sun.”
It’s the color of sunshine, the most luminous of the colors of the spectrum. It’s supposed to capture our attention the best. It’s joy, it’s light, warmth, jubilance, and symbolizes some deities. Mellow Yellow. Yellow Submarine. We were all yellow. Big Bird.
However, Pablo Neruda said, “We are dust and to dust return. In the end we’re neither air, nor fire, nor water, just dirt, neither more nor less, just dirt, and maybe some yellow flowers.”
Yellow can mean illness, jaundice, caution, cowardice, other, sour, and in some place’s death. We have mixed feelings about this color. It’s the deterioration of the mind in the Yellow Wallpaper. Insanity. Everyone needs a break from even the sunniest of days. Yellow can be unrelenting.
Yellow is often thought of as gaudy, immature, and audacious and also viewed as youthful, energetic, bold, and refreshing. Yellow is new life in the early spring daffodils and crocuses and the yoke of an egg. It is the sign of a failing liver. We don’t know how we feel about yellow.
But soon, the yellows will appear in the mums and the leaves before they drop. Yellow will mix with red for golds and oranges. Pumpkins and apples are soon to follow.
This week I am bathing myself in yellow before school starts, and less natural yellows take over. And before what I see bursting around me goes to seed, dies back, and hibernates until spring.
Yellow is the color of my true love’s hair.
Yellow is the color of my cat’s eyes as she stares up at me, waiting to be scratched.
Yellow is sunlight. Yellow is life.