A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Blue Is The Colour of Spring
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Thinking about spring this morning it ocurred to me that most of my views about it are the same as those about patriotism, planting trees, saving money and the Argentine flag. These iconic concepts came to me early in school and I received them from influential teachers whom I either adored or feared. Some of these concepts such as patriotism and ahorro, (saving money) were to be found in my textbooks that were put together by PR firms that answered to Juan and Evita Perón. Saving money came hand in hand with the Plan Quinquenal (or 5-year plans) in which the Argentine government (Perón) was going to exceed all levels in five years to make our nation a worthy one. We were also told (and all city parks had the sign) that "En La Argentina los únicos privilegiados son los niños," or in Argentina only the children are the privileged ones.

Between the second grade and the third grade we had segundo superior which was an in-between grade that was much tougher than second grade. Some of us who were deemed to possess higher IQs were plunked into it. I have long forgotten the name of my segundo superior teacher. She was strict but I was not afraid of her.

She taught us a different method (simpler she said) of writing the letter "q" in which you just crossed the vertical line instead of making the more difficult squiggle as seen here. I also remember the teacher and this class because a photographer took a classroom picture in which he used magnesium flash powder. I have never forgotten that flash and the poof.

When I gave spring some thought this morning I realized that only now, after all these years, have I stopped looking at the seasons, one at a time, as perfect entities. If you look closely at the daffodils that I scanned today, there is some slug damage. Spring isn't perfect and it already brings with it the decay of fall. I see seasons as brief stopovers into the next ones. The brand new shoe already has that first scuff on it. Accepting the seasons in this less than ideal way, as well as understanding the concepts of patriotism and saving money (in more realistic terms) would suggest that the innocence of youth is finally behind me!

Even the colours of spring have been fixed in my youth. Jacaranda mimosifolia is a tree of my Argentina and my past. In spring, and then for at least two months they bloom bright blue. I cannot thing of a fresher colour than blue to bring in the idea of new things to come. I have never seen yellow or even pink as the colours of spring and Easter.

Jacaranda is a beautiful word from the beautiful language Guaraní which is spoken in northern Argentina, southern Brazil and is one of the two official (with Spanish) languages of Paraguay. This most melodic language stipulates that jacarandá should be pronounced as hacarandá. Properly said (you have to open your mouth for this and put special emphasis on that last syllable as if it were the poof of magnesium powder) jacarandá, the word, is as beautiful as the tree which has always coloured my springs blue. And I still cross my Qs.


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