My daughter didn't notice the clouds, though. Instead, she said, "the sky is the perfect shade of blue."
I asked her what she meant, and she said, "I don't know, that color of blue just makes me happy."
That got me started thinking. Is there a perfect shade of blue? Or green? Or brown? Or purple? Or any color? Or is it entirely subjective?
For her, apparently the perfect shade of blue is the baby blue of a cheesy tuxedo.
For me, when I think of blue, I remember the big crayon box from when I was a kid, and the blue I always reached for was Midnight Blue. I loved the dark, rich, mystery of it. I could imagine sinking into a world of midnight blue.
When I'm talking to my composition students about description, and trying to get them to show, not tell, one of the exercises I give them is meant to force them to practice description beyond the simple and obvious.
I tell them, it's easy to describe what someone looks like because human beings depend heavily on our sense of vision. But how do you describe what lemonade tastes like to someone who's never tasted it?
What a headache feels like to someone who's never had one?
What a cinnamon roll smells like to someone who's never smelled one?
What a rock concert sounds like to someone who's never heard one?
Suddenly you have to reach beyond sweet, tart, painful, delicious, and loud into shared feelings, experiences, and thoughts in order to convey the essence of those things to your readers.
It's not an easy task.
Which brings me back to colors.
I'm going to give you a writing exercise now:
In the comments, write a descriptive paragraph about your favorite color. I don't mean just blue, or red, or yellow. I mean cerulean, or garnet, or goldenrod. Describe it as if your readers have never seen it, exploring what it reminds you of (things and memories), or what it makes you think or feel. Connect with readers on the level of common experience.
I can't wait to read what you come up with!