Pink and chartreuse in Iowa


Pink and chartreuse in Iowa

[By Marcia Milner-Brage in Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA]

It’s a small house, close to the old town downtown. It’s pink. The color app names it to be light salmon or tulip. Neither of those monikers resonate. To me it’s the color of Pepto Bismol or Bazooka bubblegum. Unlike other cities in the United States that have traditions of houses painted in bright, richly saturated colors–like San Francisco or New Orleans, my hometown is a place where exterior house color is invariable not notable.

The lack of variety and flare in exterior house color here is encouraged by the much used option of aluminum siding. Homeowners of older homes are covering up their wood siding with aluminum, never to have to paint again. Iowans are known to be pragmatic, sensible. Another thing about Iowans is when in conversation, if you get the response, “That’s different”, you know you’ve stepped too close to the line of what’s acceptable. By being different here, perhaps you’re taking an unnecessary risk. Anyway, back to the color of houses. Unfortunately, the color choices for aluminum siding are limited and, pardon me for saying, an aluminum sided house looks canned–the difference between a TV dinner versus dinner made from fresh ingredients.

When this house on 4th went pink–not pastel pink or pink that’s more mauve, but P-I-N-K with an attitude, I was delighted. I felt my neighborhood had been enriched. It had been spiffed up. I go out of my way to pass by this house. It’s uplifting. Yup, it makes me happy. I go by this house and I can’t help but think–there’s one loved house.

This house on 3rd Street is also small. It’s been uninhabited for as long as I can remember (and I’ve lived here for 30 years). Yet it’s minimally tended–no broken windows, a hose hanging on the side, the roof in good shape, the foundation not cracked, the lawn mowed. To me, it’s the chartreuse house. I’m attracted to this house because I like the color. And face it, chartreuse is not a common color to paint ones house. It’s unusual and yet understated. The color endeared it to me. The color makes the house elegant to my eyes. Over time, the paint has chipped and faded. What is it now? Faded chartreuse? Chrome oxide green? Grasshopper green? Khaki? Mindaro? In the 1950s when this house was built, it was called Wheatgrass and it must have been a color in vogue. No need to name it, really, I’ll just draw it and the pink house and give them the attention they deserve for being different.


Published at Sun, 27 Aug 2017 02:14:00 +0000

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