An Ode To Orange

I shall begin the proceedings by stating that this story would not have come into existence were my wife Sandy and I not subscribers to The New Yorker magazine. Thus, if you read this opus and decide that it sucks, then sue The New Yorker, not me. As always, I’m blameless!

Back cover of The New Yorker magazine

For it was about six weeks ago that I noticed the colorful back cover of the aforementioned magazine’s March 1 issue. That cover was an ad for Sumo Citrus, a variety of fruit that I’d never heard of before. Grown in California, it’s a large version of a mandarin orange, and boasts what pretty much looks like a top knot on its head. Sumo wrestlers sport top knots. Hence, the fruit’s name.

Anyway, not many days later Sandy and I were filling up our shopping cart at a Whole Foods supermarket when a table piled sky high with bright orange produce caught my eye. Holy shit, it was a Sumo Citrus mountain! Were we enticed? Yo, is the pope Catholic? So, overpriced though the fellas were, we purchased one. And ate it the next day. Yeah, it was seedless and easy to peel, as advertised, points definitely in its favor. But how about the taste? That’s the main thing, right? Well, the flavor was good. Quite good. But hardly a revelation. I mean, it tasted like an orange!

Whether we buy or don’t buy another Sumo Citrus some day, the fruit made a real impression on me because, subconsciously, the color orange remained on my mind. I love colors, just about all of them, and have published many essays on this site that revolve around one color or another: odes to blue, green, red and yellow come to mind. But I haven’t waxed poetic very much about orange. On April 5, a Monday, I decided that the time had arrived to do something about that.

In mid-afternoon of that day, off I went to Willow Grove Park, a three-story indoor shopping mall near my home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. From past experience, I knew that examples of just about every color under the sun can be found there, some on store merchandise and displays, some on signs, and some adorning the bodies of the mall’s employees and customers.

I spent an hour in the commercial wonderland, which, despite the pandemic, was as busy as I’ve ever seen it outside of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. A diligent journalist, I kept my eyes focused on colors, rather than on cute girls, as I scoured the premises. Some hues definitely predominated: shades of white, black, blue, grey and red, I’d say. Orange wasn’t a member of the in crowd. In fact, only purple, by my estimation, was represented less at the mall than was orange. Nonetheless, I found a fair number of examples. They were hard to miss, so flamboyant is orange.

Macy’s department store carried some ladies’ clothes, shoes and accessories in knockout versions of orange, for example, and a small number of men’s shirts in same. A vendor in the mall’s food court had shelves filled with candy bars whose wrappers exploded in orange and in other hues. And a teenager, strolling the avenues with a young lady, shone like a star in his orange shirt. In fact, he was the only person I saw at the mall who wore any orange at all. Wait a minute . . . that ain’t true! Wandering around the mall was a f*cking weirdo whose orange, black and white mask covered half of his wrinkled face. It was good of him to stop and pose for a selfie for this story. If you surmise that the f*cking weirdo was yours truly, you possibly are correct.

Why isn’t orange more popular in the USA than seemingly it is? Good question. It should be a hit. Orange is snazzy, jazzy and full of good spirits, after all. But maybe the American personality leans a bit too much toward the repressed side for orange to get its due. Its day may come, though. You never know. I’m pretty sure of one thing, in any event. To wit, my eyes will stay open for orange. Once you start looking for that color, it’s hard to stop.

I’m going to leave you with two recordings that pay homage to orange — to skies of orange, specifically. The first (Orange Skies) is by Love, a trippy rock band that was popular in the hippie era. They recorded it in 1966. The second (Orange Colored Sky) was put on wax by the one-and-only Nat King Cole in 1950.

Thanks for reading, girls and boys. Please don’t be shy about entering any comments you might have. Till next time!

162 thoughts on “An Ode To Orange

  1. cigarman501 April 24, 2021 / 10:46 am

    I like orange. Went to an institute of higher learning with orange and purple in their color scheme. Taught and coached at a school whose colors included orange and brown. Yeah, I like orange.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rkrontheroad April 24, 2021 / 12:04 pm

    Greetings from the land of orange – Bronco fans sport sweatshirts, tees, hats, whatever. Thanks for introducing me to a Nat King Cole song I haven’t heard before. Nice one!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Crystal Byers April 24, 2021 / 4:25 pm

    My dad has an orange ‘33 Ford Coupe, and my brother recently flew to Nashville and found a deal he couldn’t refuse. He drove back to Oklahoma in an orange Jeep. Loyalties run deep for Oklahoma State in my family. Except for me. I’m the black sheep. Boomer Sooner!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. carolinehelbig April 25, 2021 / 5:09 pm

    Never seen those crazy top knot oranges before. We are pretty cheap so will stick to the conventional kind. I love the colour orange, but as a society (at least here) we seem to shy away from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pam Lazos April 28, 2021 / 8:55 am

    I personally love the color orange, but it doesn’t love me so much unless it’s summertime and I have a tan. As for the Sumo Citrus, if I have to take out a second mortgage on the house to buy it, I generally don’t do it. The navel oranges from Florida right now are delish!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 28, 2021 / 3:35 pm

      Hey there, Pam. In order to make it, the Sumo is going to have to come down in price, I think. Maybe that will happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos April 28, 2021 / 3:45 pm

        I agree! Whole Foods is great but a little too bougie at times. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. greenpete58 April 30, 2021 / 10:53 am

    Ohhhh, Neil. Kudos to you (and snakesinthegrass and rivertoprambles) for their recognition of one of my favorite songs, “Orange Skies” by the great Bryan MacLean and Love. Was just out in their neck of the woods, in Laurel Canyon and on Sunset Blvd. I was indeed “laughing, glad, and full of glee.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. brianrhicks May 1, 2021 / 10:37 am

    Just a brief note regarding Nat King Cole (especially in the Trio years). The best!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. shoreacres May 1, 2021 / 10:11 pm

    Have you come across John McPhee’s book Oranges? It’s just marvelous. It originally was published as an essay in The New Yorker, and it’s still available there in the archives if you’re a subscriber. They put it behind a paywall some time ago. When I grow up, I’d like to be John McPhee. In the meantime, I just read him, and Oranges is a favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2021 / 7:18 am

      Hi. Thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t read anything by him in a while. Years ago I read his book about Bill Bradley, the college basketball star who went on to play in the pros and then became a Senator. Bradley was still in college, I think, when McPhee wrote about him. McPhee probably has written dozens of books since then.


  9. Basia Korzeniowska May 3, 2021 / 4:32 am

    You should listen to Love for three Oranges by Prokofiev. A rousing piece of music. I love the colour orange. And wear it quite a lot. I even have some orange shoes!
    In fact I nearly bought an orange evening dress the other day. But then I realised I have nowhere to wear it. Possibly the present owner realised that too !

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kim Smith May 9, 2021 / 5:18 pm

    Neil, I’m glad I discovered your blog today (thanks to your kind comment on mine). Love this ode to orange, and will be digging around in your archives to read the other entries about color. In fact, you may have inspired me to do something similar when I write about our native wildflowers here in Ohio. And I’ve enjoyed your writing as I jumped around here for a few minutes — count me as a new subscriber!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. alisendopf May 16, 2021 / 10:34 am

    I used to own a Rhymes with Orange CD back in the 90s. Can’t quite remember the songs, but I knew I liked them.
    In Canada, we have a third major political party called the NDP that is left of left. It’s official colour is orange (the Conservatives right has blue, and the Liberal left has Red). When the amazing Jack Layton took the NDP party from distant third to official opposition, sweeping across Quebec and other parts of Canada, it was called an Orange Crush. Sadly, Jack died of cancer shortly after his win, otherwise I am positive we would have finally had a party other than the Conservative or the Liberals win a majority. Jack is worthy of your love of orange as the last true federal leader Canada has seen.

    Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf May 18, 2021 / 11:55 am

        Oi. They are doing terrible. Lost all the federal seats they won. Back into a distance third, which shows how incredible Jack was, and that it wasn’t just good NDP policy.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Silver Screenings June 5, 2021 / 6:17 pm

    Ah, I love that song by Nat King Cole – it’s perfect on this rainy afternoon.

    As for the colour orange, I love its vibrancy and it always cheers me up…which is what your lovely photos did. Thanks for that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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