Blue and White

Free into the wind —Rudy Girón

Free into the wind —Rudy Girón

Free into the wind, your beautiful flag marks a happy month of national celebration just as Guatemala’s national anthem proclaims. Blue and White are the colors of the flag, with fresh flags and blue-and-white bunting on display all over “Guatemala Feliz,” happy Guatemala, as we near mid-month and Independence Day. 

The new flags are indeed a beautifully clear blue and clean white, as are the Guatemalan skies most hours each day. But just as the skies can cloud over quickly with darker clouds, or turn velvet-black quickly when the sun sets with very little twilight time, the national flag’s blue fades and the white softens. Your observant artist’s eye in September should be counting how many blues, and what different whites, can be found around Guatemala this month of independence celebration.

Start counting the blues. Some homemade buntings and flags are dyed a rich indigo, while the store-bought decorations can differ from darker to lighter shades. Then the bright Central American sun does its job in a hurry:  blues fade steadily lighter, until they’re almost gone after a few months of flying time. How many blues can you count? — I came up with at least a dozen shades to mix on your palette, if you’re going to paint in oils the flags over our buildings.

Then come the different whites. Yes, I know; white is the absence of color and all that, and if it’s not pure white it’s not white. But c’mon, the white of the national colors around town can be a light or even a rich cream, an egg white or an antique white, a light grey or even darker shade if the flag has picked up dust or soot. Kids kicking soccer balls add a bit of dust in the air to make a flag nearby turn to a light-brown-white. Diesels add spottier-black-white. There are at least a couple of dozen whites on display around our block this month, from new flags to older ones.

Just like in the Guatemalan sky. September celebrates with cumulus white clouds, or soft strings of white caught around the volcano and streaming out, or dark thunder-clouds building to a storm, or maybe just a couple little lost clouds floating by. Against the different sky-blues, it’s all part of the national decorations, this happy month and all year. Enjoy the beautiful flags of whatever shades, free in the wind, Guatemala Feliz.

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