It’s hard to think that those of us who live in Talbot County can ever go back to what the color purple meant to us after the last thirty days. Gone forever are the associations of that color with the Baltimore Ravens, ecumenical symbols, Purple Heart citations, or even an artist formerly known as Prince.
No, the color purple now stands out as strikingly different to thousands of us in the community because of the flawless launch of the “Talbot Goes Purple” awareness campaign, sponsored by the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, which powerfully drew attention to the horrific opioid crisis on the Mid-Shore.
The selection of the color for such use is remarkable in itself. Purple is considered the most complex on the color spectrum. Before a dye was accidentally created in a chemistry lab a few hundred years ago, purple could only be produced by using rare sea snails, leaving it to be the exclusive property of the very rich or religious orders of the times.
Perhaps because of this rarity, purple has always been historically linked to royalty, magic, and mystery, but more recently it has been seen to represent spiritual awareness, physical and mental healing, strength and abundance.
The latter might explain why it was the perfect color to use in Talbot County last month. As one of Alice Waters characters said in her classic novel, The Color Purple, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
And notice it, we did.
From bumper stickers to grids of purple lights glowing nightly in downtown Easton, the community could not avoid the color nor what it represented for local families overwhelmed by the most savage drug epidemic in our country’s history.
And yet even with this sad connotation, it is a feeling of hope that remains purple’s best quality. In can move us beyond hopelessness and remind the community of what ties us together. As demonstrated over the last month, it has become a sign of compassion and support to all those impacted by this cruel and evil force. As more and more residents of Easton replaced their traditional exterior lighting for purple bulbs throughout the last four weeks, there was a glowing sense of a county sharing something very much in common.