Reflection Point with Susan Boss: Color my life green, with gratitude

  • Green fern leaves in spring on a sunny day. Zheltobriukh Olexander

For the Gazette
Published: 9/23/2021 1:36:16 PM

I’ve been meditating on the color green and the idea of green.

I have a long history with this color, being a third-generation Irish American. My mother used to say we didn’t have to wear green because the map of Ireland was written on our faces.

However, there are dozens of songs about the “wearing of the green.” Many are laments. “Oh, Paddy, dear, now did you hear the news that’s goin’ round? The shamrock is forbid by law to wear on Irish ground. Saint Patrick’s Day no more will be, his color can’t be seen. They’re hangin’ men and women for the wearing of the green.”

However, I did wear green — a lot. When I was a second grade student, I was enrolled in Ursuline Academy in Springfield, which had an elementary school branch. The school uniform was a dark green jumper over a white blouse. There was an additional tie of some kind that was also dark green. I attended this elementary school through sixth grade. Five years of dark green, 10 months at a time.

During the same year, I stepped up from being a Brownie to being a Girl Scout. Light green uniform with a deep green sash. That lasted 10 years.

I went to Girl Scout camp, Bonnie Brae, in Goshen in sixth through eighth grade. Loved it. My favorite camp song was “Green Grow the Rushes, Oh!” “I’ll sing you One, oh. Green Grow the Rushes, Oh! What is your One, oh? One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.” It then went on for many, many verses.

In ninth grade I transferred to Cathedral High School in Springfield. Green blazer, green plaid skirt and green knee socks. Wore that for the better part of four years. I graduated in 1970, went on to art school and never wore a uniform again.

June and July are the greenest months in New England. My husband, Mark Brown, says “Green, green, everything green.” Actually, green creeps in during May as a very yellow version of green.

It is unsurprising that being green is used to describe that which is new and untested. A greenhorn is a term that is used to characterize a person who is new to or inexperienced at a particular activity.

The environmental movement is associated with the color green. “Environmentalism and environmental concerns are often represented with the color green,” Wikipedia says. “An informal or derogatory label for environmentalists is the term ‘greenie.’”

There are political movements associated with the color green.

“Green politics, or ecopolitics, is a political ideology that aims to foster an ecologically sustainable society often, but not always, rooted in environmentalism, nonviolence, social justice and grassroots democracy,” Wikipedia says.

There are sources of energy that are referred to as being green. These energy systems are generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind or water. They typically do not produce atmospheric pollutants.

Kermit the Frog, famously of Sesame Street, has sung “It’s not easy being green.” That sentiment can be applied to many, many current situations.

Green is the color of the traffic signal that indicates it is your turn to go. Originally the first electric traffic lights were green and red. According to Science ABC, a police officer named William Potts in Detroit invented the first four-way and three-colored traffic lights in 1920, and “apart from red and green, a third color — amber (or yellow) was introduced.”

The paper currency of the United States is green. The first evidence of the color green in federal currency dates back to 1861.

“In order to prevent the new bills from being photographed for counterfeit purposes, their back sides were printed with green ink said to be made from palm juice (the cameras of the era could only photograph in black and white),” according to “This earned them the nickname “greenbacks,” and made the U.S. dollar instantly recognizable.”

Greenware is a term that means unfired pottery, shaped but not yet fired, which converts pottery from clay, which is very fragile, to ceramic.

I am a proud and happy “greenie.” I live in a two-toned green house and work in an equally green studio. Much of our electricity comes from solar panels on the roof of that house.

Our river valley is lush and green. My CSA farm is within walking distance and we will eat an apple pie made from the fruit from our backyard tree tonight. May we all be smart enough, wise enough, to go out and lie in the grass and look up through the green, green leaves to the sky above. It’s as close as we get to heaven on earth.

Susan Boss is a writer and artist who lives in Easthampton. Reach her at

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