The Colors of Trees

Oak bark is peachy-pink at dawn

turning swiftly to yellow and then yellow-grey.

As morning progresses the yellow-greys slowly become grey or greenish grey depending upon the presence or absence of lichens or algae on the bark.

It isn’t ever brown.  Not even when it gets wet after a storm.  Then it is dark grey.

Why did we color the tree trunks and branches brown in kindergarten?

I’ve looked at lots of trees, from the arctic to the rainforests of South America.  Lots of shades of greys, white, olive-tan, green, blackish, etc.  The self-peeling Manzanita’s brownish-red, or maybe the reddish-brown of the redwoods in Ladybird Johnson Grove are the closest things I’ve seen to an actually brown tree-trunk.

We have all seen this if we looked.

Yet, I bet everyone reading this, colored their tree trunks brown as a kid.


Was the box of Crayolas missing a pink and a grey?

Did you follow what the others were using to draw?

Did your teacher tell you what color to use?

Or invalidate the color you did choose first on your own?

I am curious about this for several reasons.

If you can remember why you used to color tree trunks brown, let me know.

If you never did, let me know that too.


One thought on “The Colors of Trees

  1. “Look all around you.
    Then don’t tell children they’re wrong,
    Because trees ARE pink.” (my 1st haiku as a 14 year old.)

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