Would you like to color?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStress rode my nervous system like a drunken cowboy on a wild bronco. Well, maybe more like a toddler scribbling on a newly painted wall.

Caught in a maze of big tax bills, a messy house, a nasty drought, mounds of paper work on my desk, an aging car and a waning laptop—all equating to more cash outlay—I took to straightening out drawers. I don’t know why, but going thru drawers stuffed with things I haven’t seen in a while calms me.

One of the drawers had stacks of books that I keep for the grandkids. A coloring book of local animals and a box of 16 crayons stood out. I flipped through the book, saw the picture of a blue jay, opened the box of crayons and started coloring the black outlined sketch. Wow. That felt really good. I turned to the page with a bobcat, and colored that too. That night I brought the coloring book and 16 crayons to bed with me and colored a frog and a deer.

I was hooked. The next morning I got up, went to an online bookstore and not only did I fall in love with the exotic collection of coloring books of gardens, mandalas and ocean scenes, but I discovered pages of coloring books designed specifically for grown ups. Name a subject, any subject, and I could color it.

Who knew that coloring books for adults is all the rage? I was clueless and a new convert.

The March issue of Atlantic magazine featured a story titled, “Coloring Books for Existential Angst” — how “Hundreds of thousands of stressed-out people across France have recently taken to an unlikely means of relaxation.”

And this month, April, Mother Nature Network reported that Amazon’s two best-selling books are coloring books. The artist of the two popular books, a British illustrator Johanna Basford, has sold a million copies of her first intricate coloring book, Secret Garden, which was translated into 14 languages.

I haven’t brought that one to the table yet, but when I ordered my coloring books, I took advantage of my adultness and also ordered the wheel of 120 crayons with a sharpener. I was like a kid (or was it my inner child?) waiting for my coloring books and crayons to arrive at my doorstep. All the magic and joy from my very first box of crayons revisited me when the package arrived and I opened the box to revel in that oily crayon smell and rainbow colors. Glitter and metallic crayons were included in the mix of colors called razzamatazz, spring green, cornflower, and antique brass.

What would I color first? A flower? A dreamy seascape? A trio of mushrooms? Or maybe a page of different alliums? I could color realistically. I could even color a lilac orange if I wanted to. But I love colors in the purple hue. So I first colored the lilac in seven variations of purple, lavender and metallic razzmic berry.

My wheel of crayons and coloring books has replaced the fresh flower display on my coffee table.

So, when you come over to my house I might not offer you a glass of wine, but ask, instead, “Would you like to color?”

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