Monday, March 8, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

Even Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street had to admit, "It's not easy being green," perhaps, in part, because the word "green" performs so many different functions in the English language.

As a child, probably the first thing I learned about the word green was that it is a color, and could be made by mixing blue and yellow. Green is abundant in our world. It is the color of grass, leaves, certain insects, moss, pond scum, four-leaf clovers, paper money (until the US got more colorful with its currency), and my favorite outfit. It is also a category of vegetables, and my mother always told us to eat our greens: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, peas, zucchini, green beans, green peppers, olives, avocados. A green salad was often served with dinner, and in the summer we looked forward to cooked greens: beet greens (especially if the tiny beets were still attached), spinach, Swiss chard, and more. A green light meant "go"--if it faced you, it was safe to cross the street; if it faced oncoming cars, you'd be smart to wait until the light changed. If you were given the "green light" at work, it meant you could proceed with your project.

Green could also mean that something wasn't ripe. I learned quickly that green concord grapes were sour, green bananas were hard, but green tomatoes were delicious if dipped in egg and cornflake crumbs and fried. Green wine meant it hadn't fully matured and was apt to have a harsh, acidic flavor. Green lumber had to dry out before it could be used in building, and furniture made with green wood could splinter when it dried out or pull apart at the joinings. Using green wood in your fireplace would smoke up the house. Green pottery hadn't yet been fired in a kiln, and green cement wasn't fully dried out and hardened, as we discovered when my dog left paw prints in the newly poured foundation of the breezeway connecting the house with the garage.

Someone new on the job was green, meaning inexperienced. And, if he'd been working a while but still made mistakes or didn't understand, he was considered "still green." A green recruit was one who had just enlisted in the service; and if he wore his "greens," it meant he had on his blue-green uniform. People from the West referred to people from the East who moved West as "greenhorns." A person could be green with envy, or turn green if he was going to be sick. And if you came here from another country, you had to have your "green card" if you didn't want to get into trouble with the Immigration Service.

At Christmas time, churches celebrate the "hanging of the greens," which means they decorate the church with evergreen boughs. And you hope you won't be short of "green" (money) so you can buy presents for everyone.

A town square or common is often referred to as the "village green." Closely cropped grass at a golf course might be referred to as the "putting green," a shooting range for archery is also called the "green," and a "bowling green" was used for lawn bowling.

Song titles and lyrics even used the word green in them. We listened to "The Ballad of the Green Beret" by Barry Sadler, "Bowling Green" by the Everly Brothers, "The Green, Green, Grass of Home" by Tom Jones, "The Green Leaves of Summer" by the Brothers Four, "Green, Green" by the Kingston Trio, and even the theme song from the TV show, "Green Acres."

Today, the word "green" also refers to something that is environmentally friendly. We have green computers, green cars, green fuels, green (natural) fibers, green jobs, and countless web sites that teach us ways in which to "green" our homes by using fuel efficient and environmentally sound appliances and products. And every year communities celebrate Green-up Day in the spring, when people volunteer to go out and pick up litter in their neighborhoods and along the highways.

Even the health industry has gone "green." Green smoothies are promoted as an easy, delicious way of getting in the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Green smoothies are rich in vitamins and other nutrients, are satisfying, give you energy, and can even help you lose weight or maintain your ideal weight. You can find recipes, articles, and how-to videos at such sites as Incredible Smoothies ( and their soon-to-be-launched sister site, Incredible Raw (

So, if you're feeling blue, are in a black mood, you're having trouble with some gray areas, or even if life is rosy and you're in the pink of health, maybe what you need is a little "green" in your life. As Kermit says at the end of the song, "I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be."


  1. I'm all for green. Great points you made about one of my favorite colors. Green reminds me of Mother Earth, Spring, budding leaves, and renewal. Green is hope, a new beginning, fresh, and natural. Green is good.

    And one more green thing: your website. Nice!!

    Nancy Kelly Allen

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  3. Thanks for your comments, Nancy. Green is one of my favorite colors. We painted our kitchen green partly because green is a cool color and is said to aid digestion. I use varying shades of green, both solids and in patterns with other colors, as accents. Green is also good for a bedroom, as it is a calming and relaxing color. And, it is the most restful color for the human eye, according to Color Wheel Pro ( Lots of fun facts about "green." :-)

  4. Who knew green could mean so much. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. It gave me a lot to think about the color green and all it can mean.

    I have to agree - green is good.

  5. Thanks, Penny. It was a fun piece to write. I hope you'll stop by again.

  6. What a brilliant and fun post this is in gathering so many connections with just one 1-syllable word: Green.

    Did you do a mind-map or cluster to organize your thoughts?

    Janet Riehl

  7. Green seems the going thing with all the efforts to save trees or could it be St. Pattie's day coming up. Your background color on your beautiful blog is a good choice of green.

  8. Faith 'n begorrah, Tom, it just might be a wee bit o' both! :-) And thank you for the compliment. I wanted my blog to be easy on my readers' eyes.

  9. Janet, I'm glad you enjoyed my post. When Yvonne announced another blog chain for St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to write about something other than shamrocks and leprechauns. The first thing that popped into (or should that be "hopped" into?) my mind was Kermit. Then I began to think about the current emphasis on living "green," and that led to other uses of the word "green" in our language. One thing led to another, and this was the result. This piece just seemed to flow, so the organizing was done in my head as I wrote.

  10. Hi Donna. Loved your Green post and added witticisms. I'm a big fan of green and in the lovely Shenandoah Valley if we can keep it from being utterly developed. Have fought to do just that. I also like Kermit the Frog and his song. :)

  11. Hi Donna,
    What a fun post! As soon as you started talking about green smoothies I was hoping you were going to talk about "raw foods" - YAY you did! Check out Terces at Cafe Gratitude she is hosting a once per month juicing week - sends out recipe info etc... You may not know it but I have taught raw foods all over the country and have created the opening menus for two raw food restaurants - one is still going strong through the recession: Thrive in Seattle -

  12. Schall, thanks for stopping by. Actually, Incredible Smoothies and Incredible Raw are websites my son and daughter-in-law started. Davy had been vegetarian for quite a while, then went vegan, then raw. On their website (, they have recipes, videos, and lots of information. They just launched the Incredible Raw site. I hope you'll stop by and leave your feedback. I know they'd appreciate it.

  13. Beth, I haven't visited the Shenandoah Valley in years, but still have vivid memories of how beautiful it is. I always said if I had to move to another place, that's where it would be. My family always said I was a wit--or was that half-wit? ;-) My son-in-law liked Kermit so much as a child that his mom chose "Rainbow Connection" for their mother-son dance when he married my daughter. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Gratitude journal for February 26-March 4:

    2/26--that the microwave chose to malfunction while I was in the kitchen fixing supper, and not while we were sleeping, so I was able to unplug it;
    2/27--that on this, the anniversary of my father's death, I have some good memories of him teaching me to swim and ride a bike, of taking us to the beach, on picnics, and for Sunday afternoon drives, for his love of music and animals, and the knowledge of his undying love;
    2/28--for memories of my brother Dale, who would have been 75 today; for getting necessary forms filled out and ready to mail;
    3/1--that my son-in-law's business trip won't keep him away from home as long as expected, and that my daughter can join him for the weekend;
    3/2--for the skunk outside our bedroom window: although I can't honestly say I'm grateful for the smell, I am grateful that it's a sure sign of spring!
    3/3--that my daughter and son-in-law's furnace problems were not major and were quickly fixed;
    3/4--for people who understand the unpredictable nature of chronic illness, and the need to sometimes reschedule appointments at the last minute.