Leaning into Greyness

I decided that I’d do everything in my power to embrace ‘greyness’ this November as it’s a colour I’ve always disliked and associated with this eleventh month of the year, mugginess, flatness, boredom, downness and even depression.

I’ve spent the last week pretty much preoccupied by grey. It started with noticing the number of my kitcheny things that are grey ~ saucepans, whisks, cutlery, kettle. Then, there seemed to be grey cars everywhere, including mine, and it’s a symbol of freedom so I certainly don’t have any problem with that.

Lines of grey poetry came flashing into my mind and, much to my surprise, they all seemed to come from poems that I truly love, like W.B. Yeats’ When You Are Old, Patrick Kavanagh’s Stony Grey Soil, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot. Absolutely nothing there to complain about either.

So, I decided to tackle greyness in nature. Grey hair jumped into my mind with a serious leap but was softened very quickly when I remembered my father’s lovely silvery hair of his later years and how he brushed it with such care with his old-fashioned square hairbrush with no handle.

I’ve devoted a week now to trying to take photographs of greyness in nature. The other day, I made a beeline for Garrarus Beach when it seemed like the day had forgotten to wake up and there were big grey clouds hanging low. But, even these clouds refused to be dull and brought all sorts of shades with them.


Before I knew it, this is what opened up before me:

Garrarus Beach Awakening
Garrarus Beach Awakening

It was hard not to think of childhood days messing around with poster paints as I watched the grey turn to white and, later on and further along the coast, it was the magical connections between white, black and silvery grey that came to mind:

Silvery Sea at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford
Silvery Sea at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford

Yes, you’ve guessed, grey has lost its doom and gloom to me. It’s forced me to think of things like shades and contrasts. It seems that grey, like some people,  likes to play a background role and let other colours have the limelight.

Heartfelt Background
Heartfelt Background

I’d love to hear your thoughts about ‘grey’ and ‘greyness.’  







Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

58 thoughts on “Leaning into Greyness”

  1. Grey November nights ,
    Swirling fogs wherein smoky sprites take flight.
    Grey November mornings,
    Low skies wind chilled frozen fog dawning.
    Gray November hats,
    Curled round scarves and tails on grey,grey cats!
    Grey November days, grey November nights
    Grey skies full of grey geese in flight.

  2. Well you know me I’m opinionated lol I live on the west coast of Canada in a semi tropical forest. Most people think that it constantly rains and it does rain in November to March but very sporadically. When the sun comes out all is forgiven. We have the loveliest mid spring to October with hardly any rain. I prefer rain to snow. When I was young grey weather brought my mood down every fall when I was living in the East coast of Canada where the grey sat heavily on your shoulders so to speak. Strange when I moved out west that disapeared. Don’t get me wrong there are some days the grey doesn’t get me down but when I look out the window it is Bleh! As for the color grey I do not mind it. There is suck beauty in grey with other colors like you’re photo has shown. I love grey, black and white clothing my favorite colors. It is a proven fact that the more north you go from the equator the more you find people that get depressed. Lack of sunshine. Get a sun lamp and sit with it and apparently your mood elevates. It is to be noted where I live that I garden under grey clouds in mid spring and by the time without hardly any sun I have my tan where people ask me if i went abroad. There are gifts to be had from grey. I used to love the color grey on my walls but now not so much. Now it is a challenge from me to you to do a post on black. It would be interesting the thoughts. Be well my friend

  3. I have found since I’ve been interested in photography (too many years to count now) that I really love the moody-greys and of course the moody-grey-blues. The Moody Blues…yes this is how my thought system works…well The Moody Blues were one of my favourite groups when I was younger. Yet their music was so different from other music I was listening too (aka Stevie Nicks and the crew) and I loved the almost ethereal sounds. Today, we have a sunny warm and humid day and it will change mid-week to rain. Not that we complain about that here. When it is damp and misty…the camera still comes out and the photos take shape…love the photos Jean and the post:):)

  4. Sometimes you read a post and think… wow. What you did with that colour devoid of all colour was magnificent. Beautiful photos but they’d be less without your words. So loved this post.

  5. I was going nuts after reading this, Jean, looking for a German poem I read in college about the colour grey. And I couldn’t find it! But it was about the beauty in between – the unlimited potential of grey, because it was both black and white, without being as symbolically divisive as those two colours. Simple, yet so effective. I find grey very restful. So do Farrow & Ball, who are making an absolute killing in the past 18 months or so from grey paint. 😉

    1. Ah Tara, I wish you’d found it as it sounds just like my kind of poem. You will keep looking, won’t you?
      Speaking of ‘going nuts,’ it was an incredibly hard post to write and son (20) shouted into me as I was writing it, ‘Are you going a bit crazy over that thing.?’ (He’d been a party to some of the pics about an hour and a half earlier!)

      1. I really was going nuts, Jean! I was convinced it was written by Gunter Grass, but could I find anything online? Nein. I will keep searching. In the meantime we can think on a gentle concept without it being clouded by the divisive Grass! (I was a fan though)

  6. I like the color grey as it acts like a buffer to contrasting bold colors. When the day is grey and overcast..this is a day to work on projects that have been shelved for awhile, or read that book that you’ve been meaning to. I like the quietness of a grey, misty, slightly foggy day..it’s like you’re alone with your thoughts. No wonder movies are made with these grey days to add to the suspense of something is about to happen. I don’t like to have black moods so grey would be better as it’s allowing some light to come into the situation.. Things are not always Black or White..some Grey there too…I think grey looks great on an elderly person when their hair has gone silver or white..especially if a hint of color is used as a contrast..So that’s my thoughts on Grey…

    1. Joni, how interesting that you see grey as being like being along with your thoughts. That resonates alright.
      I agree totally about the hint of colour with grey. It can be very chic.

  7. Grey woodpigeons, grey squirrels, grey eyes, grey garden ornaments, grey flagstones … yes, you are right, Jean, there are numerous things one takes for granted that are grey. Also, I agree with you about grey being a wonderful background to set off other colours. I’m looking at a pink rose in my garden that’s looking quite beautiful in the approaching grey before dark.

    1. Sarah, I can just imagine that pink rose. I have a few yellow ones blooming at present and they seem to be at their best when there’s greyness around.
      I’m madly into eyes, but somehow grey eyes have never captured me (yet!). I’ll probably be gazing into them all over the place from now on.

        1. Hi Sarah, I’ve been thinking about grey eyes and keeping watch since you first wrote. Not too many grey eyes around. I’d love to see a photo of your father sometime ~ ideally with his eyes a-twinkle!

  8. My grandmother used to hate the month of November as it was the greyest month of the year and the time when less visitors would make their way up to her home.
    So many beautiful things are grey and truly helps to make colours in front of it pop!
    I so love how you come up with great blog posts!

      1. For us, Thanskgiving is in October and then Christmas being in December, November became the no-go month! So… she was right. There were less visitors!

        1. Dale, I often think that the US got it right having Thanksgiving in Novmeber. I know it’s very near Christmas but it seems to add lots of colour to what could be a gloomy month for many.

          1. I used to think they were nuts, two months in a row to eat turkey… however, for that reason, it would be nice.
            Mind you, we should have Remembrance Day off (11th, here in Canada) – not just the government folk but all folk!

            1. No one has Remembrance Day off in Ireland. It’s been a politically and socially divisive day for a long time here in Ireland but I think we are moving forward in well in relation to it.

            2. Like I said, only governmental positions and select companies give this day off. Such an important day. I am very happy that this year, there seem to be more poppy vendors than ever. There were years where no stores would let them set up a table. Disgusting. What does it matter to the store if some old vet sits there for a few days? Got me so angry!

            3. I suppose so! You think it could have something to do with our having to cross the ocean to get there, whereas you were more or less already there and in it?

  9. Had a quick glance at this post yesterday and have been thinking about it since. Grey. Grey is silver. Grey is pewter. Grey is steel.Or is it silver is grey? Pewter is grey? Steel is grey?? I am grey 😀 yet my hairdresser thinks my hair is an absolutely beautiful colour. Grey to me is just a shade of silver, of steel of pewter, a sign that someone or something has wandered through life,something that glints like the grey ocean. I like grey. 😀

  10. Hi Jean,
    Some people think Seattle is gray, but I think it is a silver city. As you say, if you look, you can almost always see the play of the light upon the clouds, the sea, or every puddle you meet. And to keep the darkness at bay in these cold months, I highly recommend twinkle lights!
    Thanks for a really lovely post–I love the stories you tell. And thank you for the lovely image of your father running his old square brush though his soft silver locks.

    1. Naomi, yes quite a difference between grey and silver ~ however subtle.
      You’ll have to tell me more about ‘twinkle-lights.’ They sound like the eyes of some people I know/knew.

      Yes, Dad’s hair and hairbrush were very special. I’ve never known another man who used the sort of square brush that he used. Nor, have I ever know another man who had such a thing about anyone tousling his hair.

  11. It’s one of my favorite colors, or perhaps it’s better to say it’s my favorite neutral. In my previous house, I painted all the rooms varying colors of pale gray and it always seemed cool and atmospheric to me. (your beautiful photographs would have fit right in) I was glad to see gray making a comeback a few years ago, but it seems to have largely bypassed this area of the country — seems like the stores continue to show relentless browns and tans (I’ve been shopping for tile – not my favorite thing to do).

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