Ha Noi Opera House (one), detail of a portal at the Ha Noi Opera House in downtown Ha Noi, Vietnam, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
I know it’s only the third week in January, but today is feeling like a yellow kind of day. Maybe it’s the unusually warm temperatures we’ve been hitting here in the Rio Grande Valley (which actually cause us to grumble for the way the heat tricks the fruit trees into blooming and then wham, a hard freeze). It could be that gold-yellow dress the First Lady wore for the Presidential Inauguration. (Did you like it, by the way?) Maybe it’s the feeling of fresh starts.
Whatever it is, it’s here. The day is bright. I’m mellow yellow.
I have a yellow cashmere sweater that I recently rediscovered at the bottom of my sweater drawer. The other day I wore it over a yellow T-shirt I found at Target for $2.98. Can you believe it? $2.98! It was perfect for the sweater. I wore a (not real) gold chain, kind of heavy, and a more delicate (not real) gold choker with pearls, layered. I got lots of compliments that night. Yellow. Who would have known?
One time a co-worker walked by my cube. He peeked in on me and said, kind of surprised, “Wow, black is your color!” After that, any time I had a party to go to or something where I wanted to look good, I pulled out a black blouse and black slacks. After a while, I started to look like Johnny Cash. Stuck in Folsom prison. I love Johnny Cash and never tire of his music, but my look? It got stale.
Yellow’s a funny color. In architecture, it seems to be used more for home interiors—sunny kitchens, uneven walls sponged a Mexican sunflower—than for exteriors. The exception might be the antebellum Southern plantation home. Think Tara from Gone with the Wind.
The Opera House in downtown Ha Noi is a pale yellow, although under the bright Vietnamese sun, and given the size of the place, the yellow rises up from the pavement like a luminous ball (wall) of fire. Gracing the grounds of the Opera House is an outdoor café where you can sip iced Vietnamese milk coffee while sitting in bamboo and cloth chairs set under ramadas. It is, perhaps, the most civilized experience I’ve ever had.
Yellow has that effect. In spite of the fact that it’s a warm color, it calms and brightens at once. There is no agitation to yellow as there is with red. No melancholy that comes with the tranquility of blue. No, yellow is its own thing.
Fleeting, perhaps, in winter; enjoy it while it lasts.