Blue and green are the colours of life. The colours of our planet, observed from the cold, inky darkness of space, a pulsating orb of energy and miracles spinning slowly in a void. Blue sweeps the entire globe, the colour of oceans teeming with life, reflecting back the hue of the protective shield that allows us all to exist. The colour that, on a fine, clear day along the Antrim coast, you can see stretching out before you to the horizon from the shore of the sea, a sapphire purity that feels somehow spiritual. I’ve been entranced, as I’m sure most people have, by that sight since I was a boy, the breaking waves and the rolling tide almost seeming to call out, to lure me in. The thrill of swimming in the surf as a child. To lie back and float in it as a teenager, gazing up at the sky above. To walk along its edge with rolled-up jeans as an adult, the water splashing over your feet. There’s a school of thought that says we all long to return to the sea because all life originated there. During those moments standing on the edge of it, perhaps venturing out to swim, perhaps sailing out on a boat and peering down at its surface as though bewitched, it’s easy to believe that. The blue speaks to some yearning that’s always there, sometimes dormant, sometimes bursting to life like a wave crashing over a rock.
Then there’s green. The green of Irish summers, the green that blankets the world in a lime canopy, the green of the leafy suburbs of South Belfast, the sun glinting and dancing through the leaves that hang over Stranmillis and Malone, Botanic and Ormeau. A green that, like the waters of the North Coast, feels spiritual, as though the very leaves have absorbed the memories of university years, of the sense of excitement and freedom, storing them like chlorophyll, imprisoning part of the soul in one tiny pocket of the world, that some benevolent Horcrux that causes pain when away from it for too long, but nourishes and enriches upon return. The wind and cold of Autumn semester giving way to the vibrant colours of spring, and by May, feeling almost like an enchanted glade, some otherworldly clearing in the heart of the city. If those lime-coloured leaves could whisper back the memories they store, they’d whisper of sensations of laughter, intoxication, falling in love, desire, embarrassment, fear, wonder, friendship- the breadth of young adult, and indeed human, experience. It’s certainly what they still seem to whisper to me.