An ode to Colorado blue – The Denver Post


It’s cooler than a cucumber
Sweet like the Denver Bear
Dark as a winter’s night
The color of some people’s hair

It has a prominent place in nature
Complimenting the sun
Seldom appears on a dinner plate
Unless for something fun

It’s often described as soothing
Calming and uplifting too
Evoking deeply spiritual feelings
The closest to a heavenly hue

It’s become my favorite color
And I sometimes wonder why
Don’t have the right words to explain it
But I’d sure like to try

Blue tickles the fancy of the majority of Denverites who responded to a random, thoroughly unscientific poll that asked what’s their favorite color. The results weren’t even close, with 28 of 43 respondents proclaiming blue immediately, some adding with a smile, “It’s that Colorado blue.” Green was next with five votes.

Although I now find every shade of blue to be delightful, from powder to royal to metallic to cobalt to coastal highway, I gave it no props when I was young.

I disliked it back in the day mainly because my grade school’s uniforms were a boring pale blue bodice and skirt combination that we donned every day. They were a pain to iron which I had to do every Saturday afternoon like clockwork.

Lining up micro pleats on three rough-dried dresses in order to press them perfectly took time and a lot of sweat in the Alabama heat and humidity…sans air conditioning.

Blue was also uninteresting to me because my mother was enamored with it.

“Oooh, I love blue,” she said hundreds and hundreds of times.

As a child heading into the recalcitrant teenage years with a strict mother, it was my duty to dislike everything she liked.

However, today, I wish I could share with her my appreciation of her favorite color.

I’ve even fantasized about picking her up at the Denver airport and pointing out Blucifer in the median of Peña Boulevard. I wonder what she’d say about the intensity of the glossy blue mustang raring 32 feet into the air on its hind legs, scary red eyes aglow.

My guess is she would frown upon hearing that Blucifer killed its creator, Luis Jiménez, in 2006 when its head fell and severed the sculptor’s leg artery.

On the other hand, she would get a kick out of The Denver Bear, head cocked and peering into the window at the Colorado Convention Center. She would have found the brilliant blue, 40-foot sculpture adorable.

We’d take selfies and walk through its legs to examine how artist Lawrence Argent pieced the halves together.

I’d show her where the lines on the bear’s backside come close enough to the middle of the sculpture to look like a crooked butt crack. I can hear Mom admonishing me with, “Oh, Jo Ann!”

Perhaps we would have gone to Brandi Carlile’s recent show at Red Rocks that featured the amphitheater’s iconic slabs bathed in a rich blue light. A friend described the color as setting the perfect mood for the singer’s more mellow songs.

If Mom had visited in 2018, we would have experienced The Blue Trees in Denver’s Theatre District. Artist Konstantin Dimopoulos said he chose the color for the temporary installation “Because blue trees do not exist in nature and I wanted people to notice them” and to raise awareness about global deforestation.

I picture Mom among the electric blue trees, gazing up at their majesty.

Most Coloradans know that, contrary to a once popular song, the bluest skies you’ll ever see are not in Seattle but across our state. The scientific explanation is that less water vapor in the air at high altitudes results in a bluer sky. Clear blue skies are what the blue in Colorado’s flag represents.

Ever wonder why many alpine bodies of water, especially Ice Lake in San Juan National National Forest, are so stunningly blue? Again, science has the answer. Melting glaciers produce silt from rocks underneath the ice that then flows into the water to create that lasting vibrancy.

My mother passed away in 2005, long before I recognized the gloriousness of her favorite color. If I could have one impossible dream come true, it would be to spend time with her figuring out why blue evokes immense happiness in both of us.

We’d also take in awe-inspiring natural wonders found in the Centennial State, such as The Majestic Columbine, Colorado blue spruce, Mountain Blue Birds, blue clouds at sunset, and more.
Mom would undoubtedly exclaim over and over, “Oooh, I love blue.”

Jo Ann Allen is the creator and host of the podcast Been There Done That. She started her journalism career in 1975 at The Capital Times newspaper in Madison, WI. She spent 18 years as a news anchor at WNYC/New York Public Radio, and also worked as an anchor at KPBS Radio in San Diego, WHYY Radio in Philadelphia and Colorado Public Radio in Denver.

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