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Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Kingdom of Brown

Our systems of taxonomy separate organisms according to our perception of what they are, plants here and animals over there. Plants make food from sunlight, except a few don't but they are still in the kingdom. Animals must eat plants or animals (or fungi or bacteria or something) to get nutrition and so they are animals. Then there are the strange but still familiar fungi, and then those kingdoms of very strange tiny or fuzzy organisms that effect our world greatly but slip beneath the view of most of us, that is the Protista, Archaea and Eubacteria, also known as tiny things that go bump in the night.

What about the kingdoms of color? Brown can be defined as a species of Yellow or Red (or orange of course) that has lost its sparkle. So it's clear there's lots of potential for brown at the end of the season, as things that once were shining yellow fade into wintery brown, and red shrivels, and orange becomes muddied with age or actual mud. In nature even green things turn brown as they mature or die. This greybird grasshopper male has shed his immature but colorful exterior to become brown, a good color to blend into the winter landscape of his maturity. The dead stalks of statice here were once green but now stand waiting for the pruning shear in a rich mixture of browns.

Brown derives from other colors in a color evolution of sorts so the lines between brown and not aren't sharp. Also, I am not known for my color sense, so there are probably nuances of other colors happening in these scenes that escape my perception, much like the unseen protists and bacteria. Still, the calm of brown is good for awhile of rest before the early spring explosion of pure colors and young insects.

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