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Paint My World in Pastels
by Alita DeBerry




I was flipping through the TV channels the other night and my eyes fell upon a young woman who had what appeared to be a hundred or so mugs lined up on a shelf or table. She was saying, "I have [and I don't recall the exact number] something like a thousand colored pens."

Well, that really hit home with me; I've been using color pens for years. Because, as I say, life is too short NOT to use color whenever and wherever we can. I keep a mug of colored pens by each chair, as well as my desk and night stand. They come in handy for underlining the printed word in relation to subjects or the degree in which the information rates in importance. The colors help when I go back to look for a certain quote or thought.

I'm sure I was born with an inordinate love/obsession of colors. My very first memory, and I must have been two and a half or three, I was in Mama's arms and we were in a store in Vaiden, belonging to Daddy's cousins, Johnnie and Howard Armstrong.

This was one of those country stores that carried just about anything for the farm and home.

And in that first memory, my gaze was drawn to a big glass container full of soap bars in soft pastels. I kept reaching toward that jar, for I recall feeling I just couldn't bear to leave all those great, wonderful colors behind.

I suppose I was whining or begging for them as I reached, and the grown-ups laughed at me, They thought I believed it was candy or cookies. But NO, I knew what it was, but it was the pastel shades that drew me -- just as a pastel color wheel does to this very day. There's no place I'd rather stand to pass the time than in the paint department at any big discount store, looking at all the paint swatches. I revel in all the tints and shades.

Colors are, to me, visual music. Music for the eyes. And soul and spirit.

An atmospheric display of God's whole pastel palette seems to glory in a mountainous region; I don't know why that is, I only know it's true. You are not likely to forget the view of the rising sun behind 'the Needles' on the California/Arizona border, coming east. We'd stayed the night in Barstow and, getting an early start, we were blessed with that amazing sunrise view.

The morning sky was a wash of watercolor hues, shades and tints such as I had never seen at sunrise. But it didn't last long; the desert does not permit any pastel softness for very long and soon burns the sky into intense white heat.

And I have seen and loved in Central and South America the adobe houses, once painted in gaudy, too-vibrant colors, but which are finally faded to soft pastels.

I learned an interesting bit of information from an old National Geographic magazine about houses in the Caribbean Islands -- about the colors most favored for their houses and buildings up and down a hilly street.

A governor long ago issued an ordinance against using white paint for buildings because the strong sunlight created a glare detrimental to his eyes -- thus, the soft-hued tints and shades. Whether that ruling still holds true, I cannot say. I hope it does.

Apricot, lilac, peach, jade, straw, rose, sky blue, olive, avocado, violet, Nile blue, hyacinth, ginger, sage, butterscotch, melon, terra-cotta, goldenrod, lime, champagne, amber, and on and on -- there's no end to the palette of luscious shades and tints.

And, like Ford Maddox Ford, the world is full of places to which I want to return.

Color certainly is a large part of the fascination. A low, spreading hotel sits in a sea of jungle greens, painted a soft, ice cream pink, trimmed in white, and has the look of confection on a cake. The hotel sits above the famous falls of Iguassu on the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

I think it's all the colors I miss and hope to see again. You know, our dear Creator could have made us humans to operate in a world without color, but thankfully did not.

Praise God for all the kaledidoscopic array of tints, tones, hues and shades -- the rainbows of unforgettable colors.

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Alita DeBerry has been writing professionally for twenty years, starting as a correspondent and feature writer for the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. For most of this time, Alita was also writing a column for several weeklies in the South. Her column has been published in the Atlanta JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION and her travel articles have appeared in several magazines.

Alita has been married to Horace DeBerry (the same man) for almost a half century. She refers to him in her columns as "The Frenchman." They have two daughters--Lisa and Stephanie.

The Deberry family has lived in various states--Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Colorado, California--and then retired to the home place in Carroll County, Mississippi, where Alita grew up. They've now stayed put for two decades.

CLICK HERE to read another of Alita's stories at USADS: "Old Fishing Village."
And here's another: A funeral to remember: Getting there is half the fun!

Write Alita at Scribbler211.


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