Lighting Up Life

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, foinds a photo of a red tree from the last beautiful day in October.“Go see the Ithaca Falls,” my friend, Annette, said when I complained about the lack of sunshine. “The runoff from the swollen creek… It’s beautiful. You’ll be inspired.”

When the rain stopped I went to the falls. I photographed until I was soaked from the mists and my hands stung with cold. At home I photo-shopped the scenes, inverting, painting and posterizing them. Whatever I did, the images were still all gray. I was desperate for color.

Back in October I had photographed the last beautiful day in Ithaca before the cold set in and the leaves dropped from the trees. Then the snow came. Early. And it kept coming. Mountains of it surrounded the house and lined the driveway up and down. There were some silent snowy mornings when I felt like singing. But mostly, the colorless skies and bare trees made me want to hibernate. The cold was brutal. Unending. Underneath the snow was ice. Under the ice the ground was the color of concrete. And when the plows came through the snow became black. Finally the whole mess thawed and flooded. Then came the mud.

In early April, the weather in Ithaca may be warm enough to eat dinner on the deck or cold enough that your pipes freeze. Either way, on my birthday it is always drab. Gray. Maybe that is why my daughter, each year before she died, always gave me a gift of something red. Red capris, a sweater from GAP, screaming scarlet socks, a red velvet cake.

It rained on and off on my birthday this year. So I mail-ordered myself a gift, a red dress “from my daughter.” I bought a bouquet of basil and stuck it on the kitchen counter. And then I found the picture I took on the last beautiful day in October.

Three days later the sun came out. But I was too happy hiking all day to prepare another photo.


What do you do to put color back in your life?


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2 thoughts on “Lighting Up Life

  1. Annette Corth

    Robin, my life is never without color. I enjoy the tones of the clothing people are wearing, the pictures on the walls, the rainbow of ingredients in a salad, and even the various shades of black and gray that exist whenever the sun is away on vacation Design intrigues me as much as color.. Cheer up. Let the color in your life come from within, from the laughter of friends, the song of birds, and the smell of good cooking. Let’s go out to eat again soon. Love, Annette

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Today I saw pale and dark purple crocuses and a golden crocus bud. Birds return, although I’ve yet to see a bluebird. Grass greens and I found lupine leaves. We will get there. Glad you are hiking. I saw Ithaca Falls on a sunny afternoon last week. Rainbows everywhere from spray off falls. I did my best to get photos. Your camera would do a better job. I hope you are healed and feeling a bit of hope.


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