It’s a synonym for uncertainty, for ageing, and depression. It’s no wonder that it never gets claimed as a favourite colour. It is camouflage for cars and clothes, blending in with crowds and concrete, proclaiming no happiness but not heavy enough for proper mourning, either. It’s not a storm, but still blocks the sun. It’s grey.
In Ireland, it’s the air we breathe. The island may be known as an emerald, but this precious stone is set in grey. Not clouds in particular, because there are no edges – only grey, without beginning and without end. One day, as I painted a mural on my daughter’s wall, my son asked me why I was using blue:
“I’m painting the sky”
“But Daddy, the sky’s not blue. The sky is grey.”
I looked out the window – it was. I told him that behind the grey, there’s blue, and sometimes we see that, too. When that happens, the emerald we live on sparkles like the jewel that it is. But lately I’ve noticed a strange thing about myself on those sunny days: There’s a part of me that misses the grey.
I didn’t realise grey was becoming my friend, but somehow it happened. I knew I was friends with the sun. I’m always happy to see him on his short visits, and I used to think grey was just a barrier keeping me from him. Now I see that grey can be a friend, too. No, not the one I’d pick for long days at the coast, but if I’m craving a cup of tea and a good book beside a fire, he’s the one I want to have around. And that’s something.
Clear sunny skies call out to me that the world is big and ready to be explored, while grey skies remind me that the world is small and I have a place in it. As much as I love sunny treks and sand between my toes, I wouldn’t want every day to be like that. Sometimes all I want is to know that a close sky is wrapping the world in comfortable grey.
I thought that skies were supposed to be blue
Where I grew up, that was usually true
But now I live in impossible green
Where the skies are the greyest that I’ve ever seen
And now I’ve discovered that grey in the sky
Is not Nature’s brooding or long bitter sigh
But more like a blanket, an overhead throw
That comforts the living green jewel below