Anne Notations

Monday, April 24, 2006


Maple flowers and budding leaves are among my very favorite sights each spring. In April the yellow-green blossoms explode from bare branches all over town. They are at their finest on gray, rainy days when they glow like lacy lanterns against the slick black of asphalt pavement and wet tree trunks.

There is only one word for this amazing color: chartreuse. Chartreuse (the color) derives from a liqueur made by monks in a mountainous region of France. Chartreuse (the booze) gets its brilliant yellow-green hue from an assortment of herbal and plant ingredients.

You don't hear the word chartreuse much anymore. It had more currency in the 1950s, when I would avidly read and memorize the paper wrappers on my Crayola crayons. Chartreuse seemed hip and modern. It was fresh and sassy, both warm and cool at once, as vividly alive as a new leaf.

In recent decades, clothing companies led by J. Crew began to eschew straightforward color names in favor of ambiguous New-Agey nouns such as Mist, Wicker, Lake, and Geranium to describe their palette. You needed a glossary to figure out what you were ordering.

I like to call 'em as I see 'em. So I am resurrecting chartreuse as the only fair description of the riot in our back yard. Vive la chartreuse!


  • Right on! I love chartreuse -- the color AND the booze!

    By Blogger Bozoette, at Wed Apr 26, 09:29:00 AM EDT  

  • You are misremembering your crayons.

    Crayola introduced "chartreuse" in 1972 but it was the wrong color: a reddish orange shade. In 1990, they renamed that color, and currently do not have a "chartreuse" crayon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 05, 03:30:00 PM EDT  

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