Saturday, May 30, 2015

An Empurpled Life

My wife says she leads an empurpled life. Empurpled. I first heard the word from my editor, who described some of the language I was quoting in a story as “empurpled.” Kim liked the word. Made purple.

I looked up the word “purple” and learned that dye of this color was derived from the shells of mollusks, and the color was worn by Roman and Byzantine emperors. So if you lead an empurpled life, you live like royalty. I don’t think that’s quite what Kim had in mind.

Kim does live an empurpled life when she is making blackberry jam or grape conserve, but I don’t think that’s what she meant, either.

Empurpled. “Purple prose” refers to writing that is overly ornate or extravagant, but it’s hard for me to see how that applies to Kim’s life. Her soul is most energized and, at the same time, at peace, when photographing birds, butterflies and landscapes, or later, when manipulating the images on her computer in order to bring out the most evocative shapes and colors. But her goal, as far as I can tell, is to celebrate the simplicity and the harmony of What Is. Not to make it ornate or extravagant.

No, I believe she lives an empurpled life because she can see the richness, the royalty, in the everyday. It’s a rare meal when Kim doesn’t throw open the door or window near the table to capture what she sees with her camera - a new hummingbird in the yard that looks different from the three regulars, a snake that a Northern Shrike has skewered onto the barbed wire, a Swallowtail about to land in the garden, an assemblage of pinks, or grays and purples in a mass of clouds. Our walks invariably involve pauses - to examine the rough green of lichen on granite in the woods, or birds on the margin of a river, or the wildflower that has - look! - a bug crawling about in search of nectar. Just like my Kim . . ..

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