Hue–and cry

Somehow, a couple of evenings ago, I thought of the word, “hue,” as I looked at the fading sky beyond my neighbor’s house.  We live in a small cul-de-sac (which we affectionately call “the sac”) just west of Las Cruces, New Mexico and west of the Rio Grande river.

Hue–I had to look it up–in art terms is in fact a color on the color wheel.  I would rather think of it as one of the sometimes bright, but shifting (as if drifting one into another) colors in the rainbow, nature’s color wheel.  We’ve had our share of rainbows this late fall and early winter, with some good soaking rains rather than snow.  So I’ve had my chances at hues, often feeling  I basked in their many colors in the reflections though miles away.  Something like a comforting shawl on your shoulders.

This is how I felt that particular evening when the light lingered and for a moment, easy to miss, to overlook, the eastern sky blazed at sunset and then slipped into its magentas and blues.  We all may feel stilled, quietened, as those brief moments hover.  No cell phones, no news, no hues and cries.

Funny how in the etymology of “hue and cry” we get something quite different, a worry, a hazard–anxiety–as this term cited in the Statute of Winchester in 1285 declared that anyone, a constable or citizen who witnessed a crime, should make a “hue and cry.”  This cry was carried from town to town, county to county, until the culprit was apprehended.  Every able-bodied man was to join in the chase–and the hue and cry.  And maybe most importantly, those raising any false hue and cry were themselves guilty of a crime.

I like to think of that last regulation as we struggle with so-called “alternative truths,” and our own” information bubbles” which may promote them.

We live in a time of particularly shifting hues.  Hue, after all, from the original Old French, huer, means to shout, to cry.  And so, with that meaning, we cry (hue) and cry.

I definitely feel this way as I join with my countrymen, through the towns, through the counties, chasing what we believe are lies, fabrications, even crimes. Joining in at Standing Rock, the Women’s March, the gatherings large and small across this country since January 20th.

But through it all, to stand on the cusp of the evening, with no words, no harsh or troubling thoughts, a creature privileged to witness the beauty still all around us–that makes me cry too–but in sheer joy.

 

1Comment
  • Gail Hovey
    Posted at 20:25h, 03 February Reply

    I’m a sucker for learning about words like this. Hue. Hue and cry. Thanks! And yes we need the quiet hue in the midst of all the hue and cry!

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