Saturday, January 9, 2010

Colors of Winter

photo from dsh archives

Each season of the year is associated with different colors either through systems like feng shui or through our personal associations. Feng shui winter colors are blue or black. For me personally I associate winter with white, red, black, gray and muted greens.

My own winter color palette has white as the main color. You can tell I live in the far north where it starts to snow November 1 and stops about May 1. Between these two dates the ground is generally covered in a blanket of white snow that sparkles in the sun, blows up into your face, and softens all sounds. White is associated with purity, with a clean slate, and new beginnings. It is light, airy, untouched, virginal. Looking out on a new snowfall you see possibilities and so it is with the color white.

Black is probably the color I next associate with winter. The crisp black outline of trees is so clearly visible when placed against this white backdrop. There is a play of light and dark, of light and shadow, of illumination and secrecy, of yang and yin. White is revealing while black can hide. Black is that yummy darkness in which seeds rest and absorb nourishment for new growth in the spring. Like white, it can represent new possibilities: those things that are hidden and getting ready to be revealed!

One sees little pieces of red in the form of cardinals and fruits like crab apples that remain on the trees for much of the winter, or at least until the birds have picked them all off. The red with the white and black is striking. It is new energy, hope, and just that counter point that we need in the winter to bring us a feeling of warmth and wellbeing.

Gray, too often the color of our skies up here, is another color that hides or keeps things behind a fog so that we cannot clearly see. So much of winter is like that. We know intellectually that seeds are in the ground and they will sprout in the spring with vigor and force but we can’t see them. We know that the snow will eventually melt and give way to spring but we can’t see that happening. We know that the hibernating animals will come out again in the spring, that the grass will become green again, that the ice will melt….these are all the promises of spring that are hidden from us in the winter.

The muted greens we have are the colors from our evergreens: yews, pines, firs, cedars, holly….but the vibrancy of the green which comes with spring is toned down in the winter, as if even it is taking a break, a rest if you will, waiting for that surge of growth to come in the spring.

And the blue that is found in feng shui for the winter is more of an icy blue, the color our lake becomes when it freezes over, its turquoise waters turned solid with white cracks and a dusting of snow on top. It always reminds me of those icy blue drinks sold at convenience stores!

All the winter colors are so beautiful and quiet. The riot of color that comes in the spring and summer is loud and noisy and like a fiesta. But this, these winter colors, is all about resting, pulling back in to re-gather our strength and ideas. It is about trusting in the future and the promise of spring. It is about going within in order to emerge with a burst in the spring with new ideas, new energy, new ways of being.

Let the colors of each season help you with the rhythm of the nature, the going in and the coming out, the resting and the doing. And enjoy the winter spectrum!


  1. Oh, winter is so different here - no snow at all, evergreen trees in our back yard, green grass in the front and beautifully flowering camellias everywhere. But right now it is cold like winter! Not like winters up north, but inspiring nonetheless! Hope your new year is off to a great start!! Hugs, Silke

  2. Silke, I hear there is snow falling in Florida today in some places so you are lucky to avoid it! Yes, there are many places that do not have the traditional winter la difference! I love camellias and saw some beauties when we were recently in Alabama. I do miss the color you have year round! But there is a stark beauty to winter up north that takes your breath away....oh wait. Maybe that's the cold that does that! (GRINS!)

  3. Brown, brown, brown.
    Deep, rich brown. Light, gentle brown. Every brown in between. That is the color of winter for me (after white of course!).
    The white is a silent blanket shushing and protecting the incubating seeds below.
    Brown is the bare trees sleeping soundly while the winter swooshes its way across the land.

    I went for a walk at 7:30am on New Year's Day. I had stayed the night at a friend's house who lives on the lake. As I was heading out the driveway, a cardinal passed my path. As my foot stepped onto the road, along came another. I saw well over a dozen male cardinals flying around the neighborhood searching to fill their bellies with the first meal of the year. They were so stark red against the white snow and brown branches. It felt quite magical. Even at -10 degrees below.

  4. Nacherluver, you are right! Brown is also a color of winter! And I LOVE how cardinals look against the white black and brown of winter! They are such a flash of warmth and passion as they flit along through the lovely winter panorama! Thank you for sharing your walking experience with us! xo

  5. What an interesting take on color!

    Here in Trinidad and Tobago we have only the dry season (January to June)and the wet season (July to December). Our wet season though does not bring the kind of cold air you experience. The humidity is high.

    However, we are subject to the cold air from the north. From December, chilly to cold breezes mingle with the always underlying heat in these parts.

    Just this morning as I sat with my morning coffee in the living room, I had to pull a throw over me because a chill was nipping at my toes and easing up my body. I loved it - so cozy. That's my ideal kind of temperature/atmosphere.

    I never thought of colors taking a rest but I could see it now. I believe they do. You've convinced me by your oh-so-simple and beautiful writing on the topic.

    I enjoyed reading this post. Have a lovely day.

  6. Dearest dearest Cheryl, your comment means the world to me. Last night we saw the movie Avatar and in it the tribe members greet each other by saying, "I see you" and it felt that your post was saying the same thing to me. It felt very supportive. Thank you for your always thoughtful comments.

  7. Living in the southwest, we don't get to see much of the "snow spectrum" of colors, but having grown up in the northeast, I still think of winter in the colors you like. Rusts and ochre colors are weaving their way in though!

  8. Anne, I love the rusts and ochres! I went to a bead shop yesterday and was totally taken in by the beads I saw in those colors! Up north we have cardinals to bring in some color and blue jays as well. They look so beautiful against the snow! Some of the oaks still have their leaves which brings in some beautiful shades of ochre and brown...every now and then a shade of rust. But mostly those are hard to find this far into winter. Thanks for your input! xo

  9. Hi Diantha! I've never met a color I didn't like! I'm glad I live in an area, like you, with the four seasons, so I can enjoy the revolving color palette outside my window.

    I signed up for your newsletter - don't know why I haven't been getting your blog! I've missed you - hopefully my bookmarks will be better now on my laptop!


  10. Hi Diantha,
    This is a lovely way to describe a season that might not be that favorable otherwise; "But these winter colors, it is all about resting, pulling back in to re-gather our strength and ideas. It is about trusting in the future and the promise of spring"
    Seeing it through your eyes reminds me how nature always is changing and what that change brings.

  11. SuZen, yes, the four seasons are fabulous! And I'm glad you signed up for the newsletter! They are archived on my website ( so if you miss one, they will be there. As far as keeping up with the blogs, I can barely keep up with my own and have some problems being a regular reader of blogs. Plus I have no idea how to post a video like you are doing so I am much in awe of you!

    Wilma, your comment is lovely. Nature is a great teacher for me and I try to be very observant. It is a meditation of sorts (you and I seem to find that practice in other ways!)

    Thanks for all your great comments, everyone!

  12. Oh what a wonderful post, filled with color and imagery, beautiful. You bring Peace and Comfort to me on these cold wintry days. Thank you. Blessings to you and yours. Love and Light, Nina P

  13. Thank you Nina...that is a great compliment! Sending you and your family lots of blessings and warm breezes! xo

  14. This provides a very unique perspective. I really do take my vision for granted. Thank you for reminding me.

  15. Mermaid, I think it is the human condition to take things for granted until we loose them...even the simple task of picking up a glass is taken for granted until one has arthritis. Or worse! I think this is why the gratitude practices have taken off...Happy New Year to you and yours!

  16. I really like the way you represented the color black. These will all be good words to keep in mind when I meditate tonight...thanks


  17. Cherokee Fox, thank you for dropping by and telling me this post has helped. That means so much to me. Thank you! Enjoy your meditation! xo


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