Friday, September 30, 2011

A Purple What?

A purple gallinule is a water bird I had never heard of before this week. They live in marshes and wetlands of Florida, Central America and Brazil and walk on top of lily pads and other floating plants. They can also be found clambering around in dense shrubbery. They use their long toes to tiptoe across the top of vegetation and don’t really care if they look like a chicken doing it. It is not that they can’t swim, because they can and they do. They swim like a duck, run like a chicken and sport amazing colors. Blue, green and teal feathers accentuate their wings and backs. The head, neck and belly are covered with deep purple plumage.

Photo by Blair Wainman with permission,
Colombia 2006.
So why am I telling you about the purple gallinule? I spent three (count them three!) weeks searching for a suitable title for this blog. Something, anything, that would resonate with me. When push came to shove and the delivery deadline dropped, the purple gallinule won the high honor. Am I trying just a little too hard? Absolutely. Am I taking this just a little too seriously? Perhaps. But I do like the purple gallinule, now that I am getting to know her.

Complex and mysterious, purple is a special color combining both warm reds and cool blues. Purple is associated with royalty and with spirituality. Purples in nature are represented with delicate and precious blooms: violets, irises, orchids, lilacs and lavender. Purple stands out. My favorite colors have always been the soothing greens of trees and meadows, the crisp blues of a clear sky. But more so than ever before I am leaning towards the brighter shades of bold colors rather than the peaceful shades that blend into the background.

Photo by John Schwarz with permission, Florida 2006. 
The purple gallinule spends her time on the surface of the water, only diving deep underwater for the occasional tasty treat. Her long toes allow her to run across the surface of the water without sinking. I can almost hear my husband half-joking that I must believe I can walk on water. Well, I do have really long toes. But mostly, I am expecting that my writing will likely resemble a chicken running around whether on water or not, at least for now. But the more I dive deep into the water, the better a writer I will be.

Purple signifies empowerment to me, specifically empowerment of ideas and ideals. The gallinule is a reminder to just do it, even if I look like a fool. I am currently both a student and a teacher, so I am learning every day. Today we learned about the purple gallinule. Class dismissed.


  1. The gallinule is a marvelous metaphor for your exploration. Your meditation on the color purple is a good read, and the voice you've chosen seems a good fit for your blog. And I do not think you are taking this too seriously. If we're to do this work well, we can have fun doing it, but the work needs to matter. And any work that matters is serious business. We must go to it as if, in the moment we're engaged with it, nothing else matters. I believe that.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. In answer to your question, does writing a blog change how we look at things? I can now say yes. I am wishing for paper in the strangest places. Some of things I see and hear can only be done justice with notes! I think I may just be becoming a writer. Who knew?

  3. Henry James called it living "a felt life." It's a surprisingly simple idea, that by writing we pay more attention to what we're seeing, experiencing, understanding. I know my life is much richer for having studied literature. Glad to know that's happening to you, too.

  4. All the best in your studies! Thanks for the link and your request!