Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Color Purple

In Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Shug tells Celie: “Listen, God love everything you love—and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything else, God love admiration….Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it" (203).

I'm not sure about quite a bit about God, but I'm sure of this: my little girl, her smile wide, is absolutely full of admiration for the God/god/gods/??? who put the color purple in this world -- and she believes wholeheartedly that it's holy. Purple, purple, purple. In the mornings, Mitike chooses purple pants, a purple sweater, a purple headband; she claps her hands happily when I pull her purple coat and her purple stocking cap from the winter clothes basket. At preschool, she chooses the purple book, the purple sticker, the purple crayon, the purple play-do, the purple-frosted cupcake. Her teachers barely ask her opinion, now -- they hand her the purple whatever-it-is and then love her joy.

Last week, when Ali and I decided to move TK into Tim's room (and Tim into TK's), we decided to paint over the boyish green-brown walls. At Good's Hardware, TK did not hesitate: she pointed to the purple paint chips. Later, at Wal-Mart: the purple curtains. "'itike's new purple room!" she proudly tells any visitors to our house. Then she run-waddles into her room and stands in the center, looking up and around with the awe of someone beholding the Sistine Chapel for the first time.

I know: toddlers -- especially little girls -- often love to obsess over a color. But purple is not just a color. Listen to Shug. Listen to the Romans, whose Senate passed a law dictating that only the royal and important could don the color purple. Listen to the medieval kings of ancient Europe, who also reserved purple for the royals. Listen to lupine and its shout of color across southeast Alaska's meadows in high summer.

Purple is something to NOTICE -- and no one knows this better than my sweet TK.

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