My Childhood Is the Color Blue

When I think about my childhood, I’m often consumed with images of blue skies and crisp mornings. While our parents worked, my brother and I spent our summer days at our great-grandma’s house. It was an adorable little thing with blue siding and white shutters. The backyard was wooded with oaks and mulberry trees, of which we’d pick clean, and the limbs above always seemed to be alive with birds, the cheerup cheerup of robins and cardinals in the morning and the scream of jays in the afternoon. Hummingbirds buzzed by to take sips of the nectar Grandma hung for them on the porch. And the grass below was always filled with treasures: the powdery blue shells of robins’ eggs, bird feathers, pine cones still sticky with sap, and more mulberries. My brother and I would stain our hands purple and red as we popped the ripest ones into our mouths.

And when I look back on it all, I see the color blue. Blue eggs and blue skies and blue flowers and blue birds and the blue siding of her quaint little house.

Some mornings, when the air is crisp and flavored with damp earth and the birds are singing and the robins are pecking at the ground for worms, I’ll look up at the blue sky and I’ll go back to those summers of flying down a steep driveway in a big wheel, and learning how to swim in an above-ground pool, secretly turning the light back on after Grandma had gone to bed so I could read until midnight. And then waking the next morning again to that blue blue sky.

Liquid blue. Clouds like talcum. I can still smell the ivory soap in her bathroom.

Winter leaving without so much as a bow–more like a flick of the hand–the Bradford pears in our backyard have exploded with white flowers (and they’ve also exploded with a less than pleasant odor that permeates through every bit of fresh air). And a few mornings ago the sky had that blue blue color and the air was mild, but crisp, and the birds were everywhere and the pear trees hummed with bees. My mind whooshed back to those summer days, and had no choice but to get outside with the 50mm. I tied Howl up in the back so he could roll around in the ivy beneath the deck while Goo plucked the flowering heads from daffodils, and I journeyed through the trees with an experimental mind.

Post-processing I had some trouble deciding on an overall edit, but then I reminded myself what inspires me so much about these colors, and I decided to go with a nostalgic look. I gave the photos a good matte, crushing the blacks, and used split-tone to give the shadows a red tinge.

My great-grandma passed away in her late nineties a few years ago. Her house still remains in the family, but adulthood has changed things for me, and so instead I cling to the way it felt then. I let it inspire me on these warm-winded spring days.

And now Goo has her grandma, who has a big backyard full of trees, and even swans gliding along the pond in the neighboring house. I wonder what treasures Goo will find in the grass when she visits, whether or not there are any mulberry trees to climb, what kinds of birds are nesting above. I wonder what memories she’ll take with her to adulthood.

I wonder what color her childhood will be.

All images © Lina Forrester

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