In Defense of Yellow








One of my first words was ‘lellow.’ That’s because I couldn’t pronounce ‘yellow.’ When I was old enough to say ‘canary’ I was given one that ate sugar cubes out of my ears and mouth. My siblings teased me because I still preferred ‘lellow,’ to ‘yellow,’ but I couldn’t get enough of the color. I mean, think about it. Yellow is all around us – in the sun, the moon, and even the stars.

A lot of words rhyme with yellow, like mellow, cello, and ‘hello!’  You name the rest…tennis balls, bees, marigolds… all right, they don’t all rhyme perfectly but even some tomatoes are yellow, and they look like such happy fellows!

This is the season for yellow because where there isn’t orange or red, there is … you guessed it…  It’s in the trees all around us from New England to the Gold Coast. It’s the first color of day and the color of light at night.

I’m in love with yellow. It’s such a happy color, like the sound of a banjo. I bet Steve Martin loves yellow too. You can practically pluck it out of the sky. Yellow strums my heartstrings. It’s the sound of leaves underfoot, the color of ‘why,’ the smell of old lace, and the taste of lemon.


Don’t get me wrong. Even I can sour on yellow if I have too much. But on a gray day, when I feel the pressures of responsibility, or the dark cave of loss and grief, or if a black cloud of doubt creases my forehead, I look for yellow. Like an old friend, it’s poised, ready to flood through a crack in the door, or flash me against the blue of sky. And sometimes it draws a double line along a road; one for you; the other for me. Where would we be without yellow?


What do you associate with the color yellow?

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10 Responses to In Defense of Yellow

  1. When we added a sun room to our home, the contractor’s reaction to the paint sample I gave him for the walls — of a bright canary yellow — was “Are you sure?” Yes, I was sure and still am. That bright, clear yellow with clean white trim is such a happy place, even when the sun isn’t streaming in through the large windows.

    Yes, this is the season of yellow and gold and clear, sweet breezes, with leaves floating in our stream. But even in winter, when snow blankets our fields, that sunroom is a place of summer sunshine.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Hi Sally, The responses to this post have been as much fun as it was to write it! Thanks for sharing the images of your sun room. It was great fun seeing you the other day. Take care, Eileen

  2. Irma says:

    When we were looking to buy the house here in Florida, a yellow house with a white roof on a dogleg drive was my first choice and I called it “the yellowdog house”. We ended up purchasing it. This year we had the chance to paint it again at a color of our choice, and guess what, we painted it yellow again. I never get bored of yellow. Yellow is the color of light and there is no life without light. In Albanian language both words yellow and summer have the same root, no wonder I like Florida, because I like yellow and Sun is the closest to it. Nice justification 🙂 Thanks Eileen. Enjoy the beautiful fall.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Dear Irma, I know we have always had a lot in common, but I didn’t know that yellow was on the list! You have such a sunny personality, I’m not surprised you love yellow. I hope to be in touch off line before long. Love, Eileen

  3. Hi Eileen, Thanks for writing the fun and witty article, “Yellow” ! Without a second of hesitation I was reminded of the yellow and white building, Mary Lyon Hall on the Wheaton College campus in Norton, Massachusetts. ( I am smiling at all of the memories of my four years at Wheaton that whiz through my thoughts in one space. ) Nearby Mary Lyon Hall is a bright yellow spring time blossoming forsythia bush.

    Mary Lyon Hall was built in 1849 in the Greek Revival style and named after Mary Lyon, a pioneer
    in American education. And, a Mary Lyon stamp was issued by the UPS Postal Service in 1987. I wonder, if Mary Lyon’s favorite color was yellow!

    Yellow birds that fly in and out of my thoughts include the American goldfinch, the yellow warbler
    and the goldfinch!!!

    I asked my husband “your yellow question”. He answered: “the Belgium racing colors”.

    until next week’s article… have a good week, Elaine

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Dear Elaine, your response had me laughing. I’m impressed that you even extended the question to your husband! I had no idea that yellow was the Belgium racing color! And yes on goldfinches and yellow warbler. I only saw one of the latter this year, but lots of goldfinches!

  4. Phyll says:

    Sunflowers are one of my favorite photo subjects especially with sunlight streaming through their petals from behind. Beautiful golden tones reach out with hypnotic pleasure. I grew up in a yellow house and, when it came time to re-paint it, my parents always chose. . .you guessed it. . .yellow!

    A photo of my childhood home hangs in a yellow frame on the kitchen wall, and I delight in gazing at it as I cook and remember growing up there. Yellow is a happy color. Yellow IS mellow. Yellow perks us up. Thank you, Eileen, for mentioning it in your blog this week!

  5. stephanie warburg says:

    Being a painter, I am very aware of color and what each one evokes in a composition. I found this entry delightful and charming. It so resonated with me. I, too, love yellow . I wore a yellow dress to my son’s wedding a month ago!

  6. eileenrockefeller says:

    What fun to see that even your symbol by your name is yellow Stephanie! I’m sure your dress for your son’s wedding was gorgeous. What a happy color!

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