Landscape in spain

When was the last time you really noticed the vibrant colours around you?

I know for me it’s been a while. This could be due to the general greyness of living in a place like London and the months of endless winter, or on the other hand it could be due to the fact that I simply stopped noticing.

Realistically I think as life goes on and as it fills with complexity, intricacies and routine you inevitably lose the vibrancy of colours around you. It’s never by choice but at one point the bright colours on the tube just don’t seem to look so yellow, blue and green anymore.

The younger me was colour bold, I surrounded myself with bright colours at every opportunity. I was lucky to have parents who allowed this colour exploration or abuse depending on your viewpoint. They once left me with a can of bright purple paint in my new bedroom only to re-enter a few hours later to what was described as a purple disaster. In my defense I was around 8 years old, had an obsession with butterflies and didn’t know that acrylic paint was not meant for all surfaces including carpets, bedding, light covers and glass.

As an art student I spent hours locked in my studio surrounded by colours positioning myself somewhere between a Mondrian and a Picasso. One of my favourite creations was a large canvas with a naked muscular woman painted in blue, purple and pink. I also think that South Africa with its landscape and diversity in itself nurtures colour appreciation.

All that said, the last few days the landscape here in Spain rekindled a deep love of colour. It seems to be slapping me through the face around every corner with the intense yellows, red and greens. It’s in the scenery and it’s in the people and the clothes they wear and the food they eat and the alcohol they consume.

Right at this moment as I am writing there is a woman sitting at the table next to me wearing a bold bright red dress with even brighter red lips. She compliments this look with her dark blue painted nails currently softly curled around an alcoholic concoction of orange tones.

Did I see this back home? Was there always a lady in red right next to me?

I dedicated most of my walking to my mother these last two days mostly due to the fact that it was mother’s day in South Africa but also as I could picture her in the fields of colour. I kept remembering how she once stood on a beach wearing a dark flowy blue dress with her then slightly reddish hair smiling from ear to ear. How well she would have fitted in here with the yellow and green backdrop.

It seems I am not the only one who is feeling the colour effects. I listened in on a conversation of one passionate northerner from England with what I assumed must have been his wife back at home. He was painstakingly explaining where in the loft she needed to dig out his old photo collection. He wanted her to send him a photo of one he had taken in the 70’s as he had to compare it with the photos he was taking on the Camino in this part of Spain. “It’s the last time I saw these colours”, he kept saying.

Today I was thinking about an experience that for a while drained the colours around me. At the age of 16 I was bowled over by the sudden loss of a boyfriend on one morning when he happened to walk over the road at the wrong time. I faded away in the greyness that I was feeling yet now when I look back I only remember him sitting happily on a beach next to a bonfire wearing his signature red jumper which always made his bright blue eyes stand out even more. It’s so comforting to know that I remember him in all his colour intensity.

The Camino might have reminded me of the colours around me and the importance of never overlooking their vibrancy but the real challenge will be to keep noticing. How do you keep life from interfering with your sight and appreciation of all the simple things around you? Possibly this is the million dollar question that brings all the crowds to walk the Camino.

My friend Alaisdair who happens to be a priest and absolutely hilarious and quite happy to be the priest in any of our jokes which usually start as ‘The Englishman, Saffa and Priest enter a bar…..’ quoted something interesting yesterday.

What is essential is invisible to our eyes, to truly see things we must look with our hearts

Maybe this is the key to keeping the colour intensity strong in your life, simply look at it with your heart. This will be my goal going forward, heart first, always, at all times I will be looking with my heart first