Changing Colors.

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“A man’s character always takes its hue, more or less, from the form and color of things about him.”

–Frederick Douglass

There is a small stand of Black-eyed Susans growing in our backyard. Momma Bird planted them by seed last fall, as part of her ever-growing butterfly garden.  Of all the seeds she planted, the Black-Eyed Susans are the only ones to really take off and multiply.  It’s an impressive array of yellow and brown and green.

The stand of Black-Eyed Susans is full of life.

A baby rabbit uses it for cover as it tries to return to its nest safely and avoid being eaten by our ever-watchful German Shepherd.  I have seen more than one rat snake slither out of the bed. Honey bees are endlessly coming and going, with loads of pollen from the flowers.  Butterflies sit and gently open and close their wings – seemingly just sitting and enjoying the warm sun.

Until yesterday, I lived under the illusion that this stand of pretty yellow flowers was a peaceful little “world”.  What changed my mind was the little gecko lizard that I caught sneaking into the bed of flowers.   Before entering the flower bed, he changed colors from brown to green – before my eyes.  For whatever reason, this little gecko did not want to be noticed.

There are only a few reasons why a gecko might not want to be noticed or stand out.

1) It’s in a gecko’s nature to change color to blend to his surroundings.

2) He is just a shy lizard, and doesn’t like to be noticed.

3) He is in attack mode, and wants to sneak up on his prey.

4) He is fearful that something in the stand of flowers will attack him, so he changes to blend in.

5) He was flattering the flowers – so inspired by their beauty that he changed his color to match them.

Any of these reasons might be a legitimate reason for a lizard to change its appearance.  I suspect however (but have no way of proving) that the lizard’s character stays the same, no matter what color he appears on the outside.

This makes me wonder – was Frederick Douglass correct in his belief that a man’s character reflects the character of his environment?  Or, like the lizard, is it just our outward appearances that morph and change to fit in, while our underlying character stays the same?

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