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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Autumn/Fall (08/27/09)

TITLE: The Curse of Brown
By Gregory Kane


Chestnut, sepia, hazel, beige, chocolate, mahogany, amber: take your pick, doesn't mean a thing to me. The summer fades and the trees explode in a paroxysm of colours and tones, but none of it moves me. Such is the curse that befalls one in fourteen men who view the world through dichromatic eyes, who wonder why everyone else is mesmerised by the radiance of autumn.

I first discovered that I was colour-blind when the school nurse showed me a bizarre assortment of patterned cards. “Have a look at this one,” she said. “What can you see?” It's hard to know how to respond to such a question. Should one make something up and suggest a three-legged pony or a laser-wielding astronaut? The first card invariably showed a two-digit number. But no matter how hard I screwed up my eyes, nothing ever coalesced on the other pictures. I have since tracked down the same seemingly random patterns on the Internet. Apparently my wife and sons are not blighted by dichromatism as they can gleefully reel off symbols and numbers that remain invisible to my poor, limited sight.

We live in an area that depends heavily on agriculture. As we drive along the road my beloved will comment on how dry and miserable the corn stalks are looking, at how shrivelled the grass by the verge has become. I have learned to grunt in diplomatic agreement although all I ever see are shape-shifting greens and browns that delight in foxing me with their playfulness. In a careless moment I will hazard a guess about the hue of a stretch of foliage only to rebuked at once by the laughter of my children. And the entire process repeats itself in reverse come the Spring and the glorious blooming of the vegetation. “Doesn't it look so alive?” my wife will exclaim. Made wise by long experience, I merely grunt.

Did I mention that I can see blue? Yellow is fine too. Purple is a bit of a grey area, if you know what I mean. And I remain convinced to this day that turquoise has been invented specifically by my kids to torment me. Black is wonderful and you can't go far wrong with white, except that it gets mucky far too quickly. And the thousand-and-one shades of grey are a balm to my creative soul. I sometimes wonder if life wouldn't be much easier if I lived somewhere like Canada. Take the arctic fox for example: white or pale blue in the winter, grey in the summer. Now that's a colour scheme even I could handle.

You would think with my visual inadequacies I would dress in grey suits or slum around in blue jeans. In an absurd illustration of the quirkiness of the gene pool, my own colouring is autumnal. Up until the last few years I sported brown hair, a blond moustache and a ginger beard. Hence I looked rather good in a green t-shirt and a beige pair of chinos. Or at least my wife told me I did - I couldn't possibly know! Yet I was forever being sent back to change: “That's a brown shirt, darling, not green. That tan really doesn't go with burgundy. The maroon in that tie clashes dreadfully with your beard.” Thankfully the stresses of life and parenthood have finally tipped my colouring over into the wonderful world of monochrome, so that these days I rarely have to worry about what I put on. Although I'm told that brown shoes still don't sit too well with lilac socks.

There is an odd verse in the book of Revelation1 that offers some glimmer of hope. Therein it speaks of a tree that bears a new crop of fruit every month, presumably encompassing each of the earth's seasons. Apparently the leaves of this tree are for the healing of the nations. Come the resurrection, I believe that my retinas will be renewed with properly functioning rods and cones. Hence I look forward to drinking deeply of the richness of God's creation in all its chromatic diversity, whether in autumn, spring or summer. But in the meantime I muddle through, reminded time and again that there is so much in this present world that lies obscured to mortal sight. I may not be able to comprehend tinted numbers on a test card or the subtle changes in a dying leaf. But my eyes have beheld the Saviour and in this my soul rejoices.

1 Rev 22:2

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Verna Cole Mitchell 09/03/09
And here's another one who picks out her husband's ties and matches his clothes for him. He's especially fond of white crepe myrtles, not the red one outside our den window. You did a great job of making a humorous essay out of your "affliction," then concluding it with inspiring devotional thoughts.
Lynda Schultz 09/04/09
Great writing. (And, no, it wouldn't help to live in Canada, believe me—lol).
Charla Diehl 09/04/09
Obviously the Lord blessed you with a sense of humor in order to cope with being color blind. Loved the way you wrapped the ending around the scripture verse. Good work.
Karie McCaffity09/09/09
I loved reading this. I have a good friend who is color blind, and I have sympathized with his plight. Purple is a bit of a gray area… too funny.
Jan Ackerson 09/09/09
Love the self-deprecating humor, your readable voice, and the non-preachy message.
Allen Stark09/09/09
I must say that I believe we write best from the inside out. This has been my devotional for today. You have done a wonderful job in reminding me of what is awaiting the "faithful." I have copied and pasted your last paragraph into a message for my wife who looks forward to the new life in a world made new.
Betty Castleberry09/09/09
This is a unique angle for the topic, and one I enjoyed reading. Love that you poked fun at yourself, and loved the ending. Kudos.
Mona Purvis09/09/09
Gregory, I understand this well. I'm not color-blind, but I have no sense of smell. I've never smelled anything in my life and was 8 or 10 before I realized I had no clue what other kids were talking about when they could be outside playing and smell what was being cooked for dinner.

This was an unique take on the subject and I enjoyed reading it.

Carol Slider 09/09/09
I'd heard of color-blindness, but I had never imagined what it would really be like. I know I'll appreciate all the colors of the seasons even more, now that I've read about your experience! Thanks so much for being willing to describe it so vividly, and meaningfully.
Mariane Holbrook 09/10/09
What a great piece of writing. You'll place high with this one! Kudos!