“Orange is the new black”

Or, how to use color to counter cold-season induced emotional misery.

The fifth soup-making event of the season took place on January 31, gathering visual artist / community builder Laura Brown and seed librarian / activist Dawn Lamm.

(To find out more about this soup-making series, click here).

A short and bright account of a soup-making night in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

It was a grey, grey morning and I was brooding over dark, dark thoughts.

I was ready to give up and go back inside my comfortable, but ever-so-lonely introvert closet.

I was phone in hand, about to cancel this gathering, when my eye met the soup ingredients on the kitchen counter, all colorful. A promise of warmth and delight.

A red and orange palette. Beautiful Italian cans of peeled tomatoes and tomato paste, a bell-pepper, yellow onions and chickpea flour.

We were going to bake socca, a gluten-free flatbread from Nice, and improvise a “soupe ni├žoise” to go with it.

On her way here, Dawn sent me a text with links to soca music playlists. “Soca for socca” it said. A promise of warmth and laughter. (Soca is a genre of music that originated within a marginalized subculture in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1970s).

Laura’s colorful shirt.

Then she showed up in person with kalamata olives, a magnificent slab of fresh tuna and a bouquet of yellow/orange tulips. Vitamin D for the eyes.

At that point, my spirits were already pale blue, instead of dark grey.

Enter Laura, in a bright, flowery shirt, carrying green parsley and chives.

We cooked the onions and the bell pepper in olive oil. Added the tuna, Kalamata olives, garlic, peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. We then covered everything with broth.

While cooking we talked of yellow ginger bugs, beige English muffins, green gardens and seeds. Promise of Spring to come.

The whole experience was a series of splashes of color, some in loud monochromatic bursts, some in intricate patterns.

I had a minor tear-filled melt-down after my first guest left the house. Color is not a magic cure-all. Self-doubt was still eating at me.

But color really kept me afloat that day. It has the power to buoy spirits in uncertain times. So give it a try!

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