With a cherry on top

Seeing red (and pink)
I once knew a beautiful woman, tall, with dark hair and sparkling dark brown eyes. She dressed to own the room, and she knew what she was doing. She once told me that she only wore red twice a year: on Christmas and on Valentine’s Day. Many years later, I’m still puzzled by such a rigid dress code outside the military, but I once saw her in red, and she absolutely owned the room that day.

Well, sartorial rules aside, we find ourselves between my friend’s two official “red” holidays (plus a third that she didn’t mention), and in honor of that, I’m posting a selection of red and pink, flowers and hearts, plus a few pithy quotations, all in the name of love and romance.


Citou Rose
An outrageously luscious rose in the tiny village of Citou, France.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. (Lao Tzu)

Love Balloon Siena
I adore the gentle street art done by the artist known as Exit/Enter, whose work I’ve seen in Florence and Siena, Italy.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. (Jimi Hendrix)

We Were Together Blue
A sweet bench for two, flanked by roses, was the perfect setting for one of my typographic photos.

Maybe this is how it always is, that we think we go into the world alone & lose ourselves there until, at last, love calls our name & suddenly we remember the way home. (Brian Andreas)

Hole in my Heart
Red window shutters with tiny hearts, seen in Bize-Minervois, France. Home sweet home!

Love must be as much a light as it is a flame. (Henry David Thoreau)

Kissin’ Couple
A sweet piece of street art in Paris.

Will you lend me a kiss? I promise to give it back. (unknown)

A cozy table on the sidewalk of a Parisian bistro.

You struck me right in the fancy. (Emily McDowell)



If you’d like to add a little color to your cheeks, you might brush on a hint of rouge. Rouge is one of the French words for “red.” As we discovered with “white,”, there are myriad names for varying shades of red, including vermillion, carmine, madder, carnelian, maroon, ruby, garnet, rose, Imperial red, Venetian red, Indian red, flame, fire engine red, scarlet, crimson, blood red, brick, barn, rust, russet, chili, tomato, cherry, berry, wine, burgundy, bordeaux, claret. There is sang de bœuf, the French term for oxblood, a color that was developed by the Chinese hundreds of years ago to use as a pottery glaze. And—with a nod to my father-in-law Jack—there is candy apple.

Red has very particular meanings in different parts of the world and in different cultures, but in general it is known as a color that increases energy and may have other physical effects such as increased libido, increased blood pressure, a faster heart rate, and heavier breathing. No surprise there, because red is the color of passion, virility, strength, love, courage, violence, danger, and anger.

In Chinese culture, colors correspond with the five primary elements, the directions and the four seasons. Red is associated with fire, south, and summer.

And by the way, Happy Chinese New Year on February 5! Chinese New Year is celebrated by wearing red clothing and decorating the house with red. Red envelopes with “luck money” are given to unmarried children to bring good fortune to them for the rest of the year.

Chinese brides wear red for good luck, happiness and prosperity. In Asian stock markets, red is used to indicate a rising stock price, while in North America, red indicates a falling stock price.

In Hindu cultures, red represents joy, energy and creativity. In the Catholic church, cardinals wear red, and red symbolizes the feast days of martyrs. In Japan, when children draw the sun, they draw a red circle. England is famous for its red double-decker buses, red telephone booths, and red mailboxes (called pillar boxes). In Sweden, Falu red (made from the by-product of a copper mine) was frequently used to paint houses. The Aztecs discovered the use of the cochineal insect to make a valuable red dye. The color red is associated with communism, and particularly, with the Soviet Union. In South Africa, red is the color of mourning.

Red is one of the most popular colors in the world, and is seen on 77% of the world’s national flags. Red is the highest arc of the rainbow, is the longest wavelength of light, and is the first color you lose sight of at sunset. Bees cannot see red, and thus red flowers are pollinated by birds, butterflies, bats and the wind.

Red in phrases:

  • red-carpet treatment: privileged treatment
  • caught red-handed: clearly guilty
  • red in the face: embarrassed
  • red flag: alert to danger
  • one red cent: a symbolic meager amount
  • red letter day: an important and memorable day
  • red tape: usually refers to excess bureaucracy
  • scarlet letter: a red letter “A” marked on the forehead of an adulterer
  • paint the town red: partying publicly and with abandon
  • seeing red: angry
  • red-eye: often used to describe overnight flights

And I will close with a mention of the red rose, the symbol of true love in every form.

•  Kate Smith, Sensational Color
•  Rob Raeside


Frosted Lip Gloss
The delicate edge of a deep-pink tulip in my garden.



Little Tree Library
This makes me happier than words can express. Do take a look:



Parting shot
I send you my passionate wishes for a (Chinese) New Year filled with good luck and prosperity (rising stock prices), and ALSO for a Valentine’s Day filled with great love and joy (and heightened libido).

One and a Half
We were awaiting the start of a small local festival in a Tuscan town when I spotted the oh-so-red dais where the mayor would sit. I call this “One and a Half.” It is indeed my reddest photograph.

2 thoughts on “With a cherry on top”

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