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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Purple (11/05/09)

TITLE: Taking Time to Smell the Roses
By Marlene Bonney


The undressed trees are stark against the sky, their clothing cast helter-skelter upon roofs, bushes and ground. Patchwork designs surround me in colorful array as the grass hides under its scratchy blanket. Bird nests, abandoned, are now revealed for us to see, previous occupants having deserted them for warmer climates. Squirrels are scampering back and forth, gathering their winter supplies to hoard away in hidden pantries. Fall flowers stubbornly resist, poking their withering heads through the carpeted leaves until they are buried completely, as if quicksand sucked them into cavernous depths. Empty, dry cornstalks rattle through the air, natural wind chimes gracing country fields with their unique charm. Ponds and rivers and lakes run faster, anticipating icy bergs forming on their bubbly, foamy waves from cold north winds. Thorny, leafless bushes, their branches brittle to the touch, shed twigs on leafy patches of ground, blending roughage like a tossed salad.

Godís orchestra, playing the symphony of autumn, falls on deaf and jaded ears as humankind rushes by in frivolous frenzied pursuits. A child on a playground swing giggles as a falling leaf grazes across his chubby face while the wonder of his limited universe continually amazes him. Innocence personified, the toddler gives carefree praise to God by enjoyment of His creation, living to love and to receive love, his heart unbroken from misplaced loyalties or past relationships.

Then, hours later, another miracle: a sunset so superbly beautiful, so breathtaking, that evening commuters gasp in awe, I among them. Several variegated shades of purple are painting the sky and clouds in soft, rippling blankets, like un-spun cotton candy spreading across the horizon.

ďGod never needs a paint-by-number,Ē I wonder in awe, ďfor His colors defy imagination.Ē

I try to count and label each shade visible in the gathering dusk:

Hazy lilac unsuccessfully hiding behind a lone tree, a perfect backdrop for the leafless branches set in still relief against the heavenís canvas, reminding me of our purple lilac bush that had bloomed earlier, fading as seasons changed. Beyond that, mauve wisps appear only to disappear, like escaped tendrils of soft hair that are quickly tucked beneath a ladiesí Easter bonnet. Pigments of lavish orchid blend into resplendent plum hues, spiraling down as if to catch up with the darkening sun raysí rapid descent. A narrow strip of heliotrope color begins to widen and disperse into folds, stirring a memory of a portrait in my great-grandmotherís house of a distant proper English ancestorís half-mourning dress. Shadows lengthen, causing some layers of magenta surrounding the sun to darken into more of a shade of indigo. I catch my breath as periwinkle rays shoot out from each side of my vision, as true to their namesakeís flowers still blooming in my garden.

As dusk progresses, all the purple shades wrap themselves behind the twilight, darkening and folding like a bridesmaidís velvet gown crushed between layers of tissue paper stored away in a cedar chest. And, one by one and then, ten by ten, stars emerge, freckling the skyís expanse in winking splendor. Lastly, the darkened mulberry splays of remaining light are covered with nightís repose.

Later that night, I close my eyes and try to replay the sunset in all its glory, coveting those brief moments when purple became my favorite color.

I have never seen, before or since, such a magnificent sunset, although I have repeatedly tried to mix my palette colors into a painted version of the miracle playing across the heavenís expanse that night. But my renditions are pale and insignificant beside the matchless, absolute perfection of Godís creation, and I realize I will never capture the full effect of His performance that day.

That day in late autumn, when undressed trees laid stark against the sky and purple became my favorite color.

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This article has been read 643 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 11/15/09
Wonderful descriptions in this piece.
Barbara Lynn Culler11/16/09
Beautiful descriptions, yet I felt too overwhelmed by it all and skipped through the story.
Rachel Phelps11/17/09
Beautiful story, but I have to agree that the descriptions tended to drag a little. One solution could have been formatting - trying to break the paragraphs up a little more - or simply paring it down a little. I love your artistry with words.
Chely Roach11/19/09
I loved the line near the end, "But my renditions are pale and insignificant beside the matchless, absolute perfection of Godís creation..."
Lovely prose that flirts with the poetic. Congratulations on your EC!
Lisa Johnson11/19/09
I could almost see the sunset... and understand how purple became your favorite color for that splendid monent in time. Congratulations on your third place win in level, and EC. Well deserved.