Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Color Collaborative: June: Birthday



My birthday is gold and gray.

I was born on a rainy Thanksgiving morning in Atlanta, Georgia. The weather was truly terrible, I'm told. My parents had gone to the hospital the night before; I was their first baby and they weren't sure about my mother's "gas pain" but they figured it was a good idea to get it checked out, especially since I wasn't due for another three weeks or so. It was no gas pain, though. I really was on my way. My father was not allowed to stay while my mother labored; this was the 1970's, but things were old-fashioned at the oldest hospital in Atlanta. He ended up taking a walk in the neighborhood, the rain soon driving him indoors for something hot to drink - at a lunch counter where some guy offered to sell him a gun. He declined, and went back to the hospital, where I was soon born. The rain continued. Nobody else gave birth in the hospital that day; my parents were given a cafeteria-made Thanksgiving dinner. While they ate, they came up with a new name for me, the original slightly Christmas-y one no longer appropriate.

My birthday brings a comforting sameness, always falling on or near the holiday. My birthday is turkey dinner, in some stage of being prepared, eaten or recovered from. It's "Alice's Restaurant" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" played on a Sony turntable - mood music for gusty November. It's the Macy's parade on TV and the scent of sauteed celery and onions permeating the house. It's almost never a school or work day. It's people of all ages asking, "Hey, wasn't that the date of JFK's assassination?" (It's one day later). It's a real birthday cake even when it would be easier to stick a candle in a pumpkin pie. It's pumpkin pie and birthday cake, no questions asked, if I feel like having both.

Weather-wise, my born-day seems to have set the precedent for my birthday ever after. I've spent my birthday in several parts of this country and it has almost always rained, or been dismal and dark, or even snowy on my birthday. I was not born at a delightful time of year. Late November is dreary and wet in many places. It's brisk, too; my birthday is often one of those blustery, chilly days when clouds scud across the sky, sunshine peeking out weakly from time to time. You need a jacket. You might even need a hat or a scarf. You certainly need a hot beverage; for me, it's milky tea sipped from a thermos bottle as the clouds gather and loom. If you're like me, you've been watching the sky for months, sky-watching being a pastime which picks up in urgency as the weather cools down and becomes more temperamental. Late fall is one of the best times to watch the sky, and I always do it on my birthday.


Where there is gray on my birthday, there is also gold. November's birthstone is the topaz. It's found in many colors, including gray, but November is symbolized by the golden-orange variety. Topaz is hard, almost as hard as diamonds. Its colors come from impurities within the crystals making up its structure. Topaz, to me, is rougher and less refined than other birthstones. It has neither the brilliant primary colors of rubies or sapphires, nor the cool tones of peridots or aquamarines. It's like November itself, I think: crisp and raw. I have often been given topaz jewelry for my birthday, always set in yellow gold. I received my first piece, a ring with a heart-shaped golden glass jewel, for my sixth birthday. Later, my parents gave me heart-shaped real topaz earrings (my thirteenth), a ring with a pear-shaped topaz and two tiny diamonds (my sixteenth), a pear-shaped pendant on a slim gold chain (my twenty-first). I don't wear them often today, but I treasure them. My topaz jewelry reminds me of birthdays past - the peculiar, bittersweet condition of being born on a major holiday, of having real jewelry all my own and of learning to appreciate November's rusty gemstone.


Golden, too, is the landscape in late November, when the trees are completing their autumnal transformation. Leaves are falling from the trees, gathering in the roof-gutters, skittering across streets. Grasses are yellowing and curling, dry and crisp on the ground. Many of my childhood birthdays, and some of my adulthood ones, were spent in the northeast, where the trees were nearly bare by late November, black branches clawing leaden skies. Now my birthdays are spent in the southwestern desert. By my birthday, the trees' colors are fading but most leaves remain. The colors look brighter against a stormy sky. Last year, in late afternoon on the day before my birthday, I stood at the back garden wall, gazing up the arroyo. The sun shone for the first time all day, casting bright rays eastward toward the mountain, lighting up the trees. They glowed in the gloom, flashes of ocher, chartreuse and burnt orange. The sky beyond was dark and forbidding, slate-gray with bits of cobalt between the shifting clouds. By morning, it was snowing. We built a fire. Outside, the leaves shone through the falling snow. It was another gold-and-gray birthday.

Happy first birthday to the Color Collaborative! Many happy returns. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with this group of ladies over the past several months. If you'd like to read more of my Color Collaborative posts, click here, or use the button I've installed on my sidebar. Thanks for reading and supporting our creative blogging endeavors.

Fabric photos in first collage are from Etsy. Topaz jewelry photos in second collage are from Pinterest, Etsy and gemstone information websites. Trees photo in third collage is my own.

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Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below: 

Annie at Knitsofacto 
Sandra at Cherry Heart 
CJ at Above the River
 
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.

39 comments:

  1. Wow! What a post. Months and gemstones - what an original way to look at birthday and colour. Mine is amythest, I think. Not one I've ever loved. But topaz - beautiful, as are your collages. x

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  2. These colours always look so lovely together don't they. I was Boxing Day indigestion (boxing day is the day after Christmas in the UK) I was almost 3 months early so mum thought she couldn't possibly be in labour. I've always loved Christmas.....probably didn't want to miss the fun! :) x

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  3. I think it's lovely to be born on a holiday, a very special arrival and gift. My birthday is at the beginning of September, I always hated it as it was around the time that school opened up again after the summer break so I was usually returning to school on my birthday.

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  4. A lovely interpretation of the theme, Jennifer! Beautiful way with words as always, x

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  5. I loved this! I remember that we were both born on Thanksgiving, but I think we were on different days. I was on the 24th and was also a first child (and it was 1960 for me) :)
    I've never liked topaz, but after reading this I have a new appreciation for it - especially when it's put with gray.

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  6. Your birthday sounds great! I was born on Easter Monday, and every few years my birthday falls on the long Easter weekend. My husband has a November birthdate too and because the school year over here ends in December, when he was younger he was often either writing an exam on his birthday, or studying for one. x

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  7. I loved this post! I'm a November birthday baby too, and it's my favorite month, not because it's my birthday month, but because of all the things you wrote about. Your writing was terrific in this post. I loved every word.

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  8. Beautiful as usual, I was born on the date of JFK's assassination, our birthdays are very close. I always felt I missed out having a birthday so close to Xmas as I nothing for most of the year, then everything came at once. x

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  9. Gorgeous post with lovely use of colour. I think it's pretty cool to have your birthday around a holiday that is so celebrated. And happy birthday to the Colour Collaborative...I love these posts.
    Marianne x

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  10. I so enjoyed reading all the info surrounding your birthday , and the color scheme is fab !

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  11. Lovely post Jennifer. Beautiful colours too. I'm a November birthday too so I guess maybe I should share those colours too!

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  12. Thank you for sharing the story of these colors with us!

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  13. Oh there is such a gorgeous warmth to this post! I really liked hearing about your arrival into this world! The times were definitely different then! And the colors that you chose really pull out the emotion of the month! You need to frame that tree picture friend! It is AMAZING! I really enjoyed your post here friend....have a great day!!! Nicole xoxox

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  14. Gorgeous post Jennifer. And such a great take on birthday colours. I'm never really sure what my birthstone is as some charts suggest opal and others pink tourmaline. But with an October birthday I get those grey skies too!

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  15. Jennifer.. I loved reading this post! You really captured so many feelings with your words, bravo! I was born in late April and so I relate to Spring a lot. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  16. Lovely post, my husband has his birthday in November, precisely 4 weeks prior to Christmas day! Lots of colour and celebrations then!

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  17. Another great post and I share a cold grey birthday with you. Mine is early in January, just when everyone is absolutely done with parties and celebrating from Christmas and New Year, broke, cold and depressed. Still, I was due to arrive on the 28th December but Mum was apparently determined not to have me that close to Christmas. She held out quite well! ;)

    S x

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  18. A wonderful post...Such an interesting read :-)
    Tracey xxx

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  19. A very interesting post Jennifer I enjoyed reading it, my birthday is late November too. :)

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  20. What a great way to learn about colour. Your colours remind me of some red heart chunky I have somewhere which I want to make some gloves from. great post. Jo x

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  21. I'm a topaz girl too :) Our weather is the complete opposite though at that time of year (being on the other side of the world and all!) I really adore the colours with the golden trees against the dark sky. Beautiful.

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  22. I really enjoyed this post. Jennifer, it was absolutely lovely. :)

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  23. I have lots of red rubies. I was born in July. I don't mind it. I like a summer birthday. I also love the colors of Fall. A November birthday sounds pretty good too.
    Beca

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  24. What a beautiful post! I love the angle you've taken, the story behind your birthday, your words...
    I think it would be wonderful to have a snowy birthday, too!
    Sarah x

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  25. Thank you for sharing your story Jennifer. I really enjoyed hearing all about it. Beautiful.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  26. What a great post, have a good weekend.

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  27. What an interesting post, Jennifer. My birthday is at the end of November, and I have always known topaz was my birthstone. However, I have never owned one, and have never liked the colour of them. But you have given me a new appreciation: paired with gray it looks good, and your pieces are very attractive. Maybe this year...

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  28. I really enjoyed this post, I love the story about your parents on your birth day. The grey and gold in the first picture is gorgeous - I'd love a room decorated on that theme.

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  29. My two favourite colours! Though I'm a Spring babe so probably not the colours suited to me. Knowing my luck I'd probably be pink...I hate pink.

    Nina x

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  30. A beautifully written post Jennifer. I know nothing about the day I was born ... I would hope there was a brilliant blue September sky, the colour of sapphires (September's birthstone). It was in the early 60s, Hamilton, so I doubt my dad was allowed (or even wanted to be) in the delivery room. I wonder what he did do on those days. The offer to purchase a gun in your story is rather funny, and I wonder what your dad said in response! I just love the necklaces you have shown, particularly the grey & gold topaz, gorgeous! My father gave my mother a ring with their new baby's birthstone in it each time their babies were born. My sister has a very stylish large topaz for hers. It was my mother's favourite too. Wendy x

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  31. I always enjoy your Colour Collaborative posts, Jennifer. What an interesting tie-in with the day of your birth! I have no clue what the day of my birth was like. This post has made me realize I need to ask my mom.

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  32. What a lovely post - grey skies contrasted by pumpkin pie, golden roast turkey and the beautiful rich warm glow of the topaz. I've just had a birthday this week so my birthstone is the pearl, although I don't really wear them. Happy Colour Collaborative birthday and have a great weekend.
    Jane x

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  33. I enjoy your creative way of sharing the colors and some images you associate with your birthday, Jennifer. [Keep writing! :)]

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  34. I do loves these colours Jennifer, they really go well together. It's funny how things were back then when the dads could not be inside the delivery suite, how times have changed now! It's nice that you know what happened on the day you were born, I do not know much about mine. I must ask my mum to tell me the stories. :)

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  35. This is a lovely Colour Collaborative post Jennifer and your Birthday colours are lovely, too. I like topaz, it has a warm glow to it, doesn't it? November is the month of warm glowing fire and candle light, cosy blankets and gently slowing down for Winter. I quite like it because it has a wintery feel without the Christmas stress or the longing for Spring. I was born in May and I was told it was snowing the day before. Have a lovely weekend Jennifer. x

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  36. Another wonderful post, Jennifer. You are SUCH a good writer and your descriptions conjure up scene and emotions so vividly. My DH, who shares your birthday, loves the grey, blustery skies and leafless trees of late November in Britain. I'll have to ask him about the topaz. :-)

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  37. What a lovely post ... you write so beautifully ... I was a may baby which I love ... it's a great time of year ... Bee xx

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  38. what a lovely post Jennifer. Such beautiful colours and a really novel and interesting way to think about birthdays. My gemstone is Ruby (july)...not really a colour I've been drawn to but I do like being a summer baby. Apparently the Wimbledon ladies tennis final was rained off the year I was born (it was a Friday in those days!) - my Mum was pleased as she got to watch it the next day.

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