Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
Z is for…
zaffre: a prescientific, or alchemical substance, is a deep blue pigment obtained by roasting cobalt ore, and is made of either an impure form of cobalt oxide or impure cobalt arseniate. During the Victorian era, zaffre was used to prepare smalt and stain glass blue.
I love finding color names I haven’t heard of before. It feels like some kind of magical discovery.
The entire world of color fascinates me. But for as long as I can remember I’ve had magical dreams with the most extraordinary and brilliant deep blues of late night skies. I dream of lapis lazuli and azurite and cobalt.
Photographers talk about the “blue hour” – the period of twilight (in the evening or in the morning) when the sun is far enough below the horizon that the light’s blue wavelengths dominate. The sky is deep blue and the landscape is imbued with bluish light. This is a magical time as well. You can view some lovely photos of this here.
But I think it is the true night sky that fascinates me, and I often think of artists painting it, particularly van Gogh’s works. I feel like I’m becoming even more obsessed with color than ever. I’m planning a dyeing project and investigating natural dyes, particularly plant-based ones. I’ve also just read a book about an illuminated manuscript painted in the 1400s which has my mind wandering all over the palette of obsolete art pigments. You can explore a few of them here.
But what thinking about is something Pablo Neruda said:
At some point during this time of sequestering, the following poem by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, came to my attention, and I’ve been thinking about it as well.
The sky Is a suspended blue ocean. The stars are the fish That swim. The planets are the white whales I sometimes hitch a ride on, And the sun and all light Have forever fused themselves Into my heart and upon my skin. There is only one rule On this Wild Playground, For every sign Hafiz has ever seen Reads the same. They all say, “Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun, In the Beloveds Divine O, in the Beloved’s Wonderful Game.”
It delights me to end the challenge with that admonishment from Hafiz – it feels so apt, so pertinent, so beautiful and encouraging for these times.
The task I had set for myself during this challenge’s abecedarium, which I reminded myself of each time I wrote a post (and you dear reader at the beginning of each of them), was to lead you on a tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world. None of us are immune to the challenges of these times, but it has always been, and I hope will continue to be, my intention to continue to fish for the light and hold it up whenever I find it.
I offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who has stopped by during April, whether once, or faithfully, or any permutation between. It’s always a joy to connect.
Now tell me about you. Do you dream of colors? Been inspired by something this April that you’ll be exploring? Think about painting the sky? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
I like your Z word, having never seen it before and also liking color names. Has April inspired me? Well, no it hasn’t. I have tolerated it with grace, I do believe– but as for it being a catalyst, not so much.
I’ve enjoyed your A to Z choices. Thanks for doing this.
I have no doubt you navigated April with grace Ally. But perhaps May will prove a bit more inspiring for you. And hopefully it will be more colorful – in all the best ways of course.
I love that quotation from Neruda, and I love that blue sky of twilight – especially when it is punctuated by just a few lights, such as house windows, or Venus, or a moon.
Congratulations on another A-Z beautifully completed. I always enjoy your words and your reflections on them.
Black and White (Words and Pictures)
Thanks for your kind words Anne. Time has felt so wonky for me this month, but the challenge feels like it sped by so quickly. I hope you got to see the moon and Venus recently – so lovely. I’m sure May will bring us other lovely sky viewing opportunities.
Congrats on completion! You managed this challenge with ZEST and perhaps a sprinkling of ZEITGEIST!!!
Zaffre rolls of the tongue; and the image of the colour was clear to me. Thanks for adding this to my lexicon. On to May – and time to play. YAM xx
Zeitgeist – that’s wonderful Yamini. I’ve been thinking about how to hold this year’s challenge for all of us, which has felt so incredibly different for me, and you’ve framed it perfectly – thank you.
I love the idea of May play – on we go!
Blue is my favorite color, and I love midnight blue, which is that night sky color you talk about. Is it messy to make your own dyes? My older daughter liked to tie dye when she was in high school, and oh, my word, it got everywhere. (in fact her senior prom dress was handmade by her and tie dye–it was certainly unique!)
Well, while I don’t want to be discouraging, I’d have to admit to a certain amount of messiness involved. On the other hand, I’m used to making pulp and then paper, and that can involve splashing and hosing and the opportunity to wear fabulous Wellies. So messes can be fun.
I was color crazy in high school as well. I used to dye my sheets regularly, and painted by bedroom furniture every few months. Your daughter’s prom dress sounds like it was wonderful, and no doubt it made her very happy. Which is the best thing of all.
Zaffre is a pretty word! I love all kind of blue, but these days find that I love all bright colors 😉
Thank you for this great challenge, it was a pleasure to come and visit your Garden!
Z is for Zakka
So many colors, so much to love! I really enjoyed your challenge series as well Frederique. You introduced me to so many wonderful artists and techniques, and of course, all that beautiful color.
Very nice way to end the alphabet, Deborah. Once again you have delighted with some interesting words. Congrats on finishing!
Thanks Janet, and congrats to you as well. I know you were worried about being able to pull it off, but you rock. Hmm, why do you suppose “We are the champions” is playing in my head at the moment? 🙂
That’s a new word to me — and it’s beautiful. What a great choice for Z.
Thanks Joy, and I appreciate you stopping by. Hope the challenge was a much fun for you as it was for me.
You have given us a constellation of stars this month. May we all be astronauts after seeing their glimmer. Thank you!
What kind words Jade, and such a delightful image. Thank you!
First of all: How? How is it that our clocks have synchronised so well? A friend sent me an article about blue butterfly pea tea yesterday. I have the flowers growing in my garden but never did anything with them. So I went out and harvested a handful and brewed my first cup–it is blue tea! And a few drops of lemon turn it into violet tea! HA! I was so thrilled. So imagine my delight when I read the definition of zaffre! How I ask… how?
Hafiz is an all time favourite and this poem is just so full of light and fun:)
About your project to explore natural and plant based dyes: The last place I visited before the lockdown was an NGO in Munnar, Kerala. Sharing their web address with you–you will know why:) https://www.aranyanatural.com/services
Thank you for sharing your garden of delights this month–I have loved every single offering.
Much love and please keep safe and healthy.
I’ve had blue tea – isn’t the very thought of it fabulous. I was so delighted with it, I made it in a cup that has cheery little birds on it and deemed it blue birds of happiness tea.
The link you’ve posted is wonderful – thank you. How fun you got to visit.
And thank you for all your kind words, thoughtful and delightful comments all during the challenge. It’s been such a joy to connect. Wishing you all the best – stay well and happy.
I love blue, especially sky blue. Such a serene color 🙂
Thank you once again for your inspiring A to Z posts! 🙂 It was lovely to follow you through the Challenge. I hope you’ll join again next year!
The Multicolored Diary
Thank you Csenge – I so enjoyed the challenge and your posts as well. I always love playing, but this year especially felt like this was a little piece of wonderfulness in a time that has brought so many challenges.
A lovely post and a fitting ending to your A-Z blog challenge Deborah. Thank you for your very special garden of delights during the month of April and may May find you merry and in the mint of good cheer and cheer.
Thank you Susan – and I wish you a most wonderful grace-filled May.
Hi Deborah – what a wonderful word ‘Zaffre’ … and how interesting to know where it came from … love these sorts of connections. Congratulations on finishing the A-Z … and I love the poem … so reflective … wonderful read. take care – Hilary