By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The shade of bittersweet

From the Editor


Last week, Colette closed a chapter here at the Star-Gazette - a bittersweet transition. As she closed a chapter and started a new one, my own life followed suit.

With one-day of training and a little longer commute for now, I feel as though I am both in the midst of a gale, with wind snapping and rain pouring, and in the eye of a storm - eerily quiet and calm. There is still a job to be done, emails to be answered, a deadline to meet. Each day is an altered taste of familiarity. While I'm used to sitting at a desk, it wasn't this desk before. My cadence of routine is recognizable, but it is altogether different at the same time. The beginning of this chapter has been distinctly bittersweet, like dark chocolate. Sharp on the tongue, satisfying going down.

"Bittersweet" - the word has always held a certain level of beauty in my mind, but it doesn't quite have a certain-something like "bombastic" or "loquacious." In an effort to further my vocabulary, I turned to to see what else I could find that would give me the extra Something to describe this whole week.

To my surprise, I found that many synonyms to bittersweet had to do with color, specifically, the color red. Vermillion, rufescent, sanguine and crimson are a few examples. It got me thinking - does red describe the experience of ending a chapter to start a new one?

Taylor Swift wrote an entire album and called it "Red," In the title song, she describes her love for someone as red. Other colors make an appearance as well. The whole song is metaphors and similes.

Crimson is for roses - desire and attraction. Red is for Valentine's Day. There's a psychology behind color. Yellow for happiness, violet can be sophisticated, blue seems to be practical or sad - colors in marketing campaigns influence us subconsciously.

Red is for correction, as well. The dreaded red pen and all that. Stop signs are red - it's a color that commands attention.

That's what struck me about bittersweet's synonyms - bittersweet, in my mind, could not be painted with the color red.

Does bittersweet draw attention to itself? I don't think so. I do imagine it blushing somehow. Does bittersweet express desire? In a way, I suppose it does. It holds desire for what is fading away and desire for what is to come in both hands. It draws them together.

Perhaps the kind of red bittersweet emotes is the red we find associated with Christmas. It's deep and intimate, but not invasively. It expresses both what has happened during the year and looks with hope to the turn of the year. It puts the future in the hands of "the fates," as Judy Garland or Frank Sinatra (whomever you prefer) croons.

Like Christmas, bittersweet is fraught with remembrance - an ache, a nostalgia. It's black coffee and root teas, the first snow that falls signaling a sayonara to a fruitful season and hello to one draped in splendor (if we choose to see it that way).

So maybe red is an adequate color to abstractly describe this first week here at the Star-Gazette. Not the garish color I normally think of when it comes to red, but a steady, quiet shade.

As I look forward to the future, I know a kaleidoscope of colors is in store. Weeks will be gray, maybe even black. Others will burst with yellow, gleam with green or swirl in blue.

It is my hope that the readers of Star-Gazette will continue with me. We can build upon what Colette has established, grateful for all the work she has done and relationships she built. Within the red are flecks of tangerine orange - the color of excitement and anticipation, in my mind. Red and orange may clash, technically speaking (too close on the color wheel), but here we go anyway - mixing and matching and learning together.


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