Black, White, Gray with Color
Mere color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.
– Oscar Wilde
I rose at six a.m. this past weekend to hike up Frog Rock. What have I gotten myself into, I wondered grumpily. After considering staying in bed, I decided instead to indulge in a fat, steaming cup of Big Bang coffee to help propel me an hour and a half up the Northern California Coast.
Shortly after turning off Highway 101 toward Bodega Bay, I noticed the narrow country road bordered on both sides with sun-bleached gray fences framing saffron-colored wildflowers. Black and white polka-dotted cows – some with red bells around their necks – grazed on effervescent green grass literally fizzing with life and energy.
Combining Neutrals with Color
As I took in the stunning landscape, I reflected on the recent interior design trend that uses a palette of only black, white and gray. Nature rarely does that, I thought, as I relished the vibrant colors mixed with both crisp and fuzzy neutrals outside my window.
I parked at Shell Beach and began my journey on foot to Frog Rock, which loomed in the distance – a big, jagged gray and white hulk. As I followed the path to the beach, I encountered an unexpected cluster of gray stalks standing three feet high with fluffy, bright orange cones on top. The sight of those crazy-looking persimmon-colored flowers against the impossibly blue sea beyond brought a big smile to my face.
Black, White, and Gray with Yellow, Purple and Green
As I walked west toward the ocean, my eyes were drawn to a striking formation of black and gray rocks in all shapes and sizes. Their structures pierced the endless blue water with frothy white foam lapping at their jagged edges. Soft yellow wildflowers spread across the cliffs above, simultaneously contrasting and enhancing the rugged, shiny sea rocks.
Farther down the trail, I spied one wildly brilliant purple iris amid green and gray stems and leaves ringed with tiny furry bronze thistles. Closer to my destination, I came upon a swath of lime green grass dusted with tiny golden wildflowers around the base of the imposing rough gray rock standing before me.
Climbing Frog Rock
Finally, I began my tentative climb up the 100-foot-high face of Frog Rock. Up close, I was amazed to find the vast grayness alive with stunning color. I was delighted with the mixture of hues as I passed fossilized amber, rust, red, and charcoal fragments beside the gold, gray and white lichen-covered stones that lined the path.
When I reached the top, I spotted brilliant red and green ice plants growing out of the rock’s faded gray color. Sitting on the pinnacle of Frog Rock facing the ocean, I looked down to see the tiniest delicate pink flower emerging from a black rock. I was surprised by nature’s gumption and ingenuity – creating a soft innocent pinkness in the abrupt darkness of a crack.
Nature’s Brilliant Inventiveness
As I drove east from the sea that day, I reflected once again on the flair and inventiveness of Mother Nature as she so perfectly pairs brilliant color with earthy neutrals. I couldn’t help but wonder why the design world so often squanders the opportunity to apply the principles nature teaches us so eloquently.
I don’t adhere to trends. But if you do, and are tiring of your black, white and gray palette, take a tip from nature and consider adding a persimmon, lime green or hot pink pillow or two. You may find yourself loving the liveliness that vibrant color brings to your rooms – and to your soul!
Yours in the beauty of nature,