Andes Mint #23: Synesthesia

This mint is adapted from one in the archives, because at around one last night I realized that it was no longer dark-gray Monday but mustardy-chamois Tuesday, and I started thinking about synethesia all over again.

From a question in Padgett Powell’s book of questions: “If you could assign colors to the days of the week, what color would you assign Tuesday?”

This is an odd question. It implies that you – anyone – have a choice in Tuesday’s color, when in fact you don’t. At least, in your world you don’t.

Tuesday comes with its own color, as do all the days of the week.  Tuesday is a muted mustard-dun, solid color, no pattern. There’s a smooth feel to the color of Tuesday, like old chamois.

Wednesday? A clear blue. Slightly darker than robin’s egg, but on the bright light spectrum of blue. No navy, no dark. Another smooth-textured day.

Thursday is dark, similar to the ocean on a cloudy day. It’s a changeable color within that narrow realm. It can shift from dark gray to forest green, and there’s sometimes a dark honeycomb lace pattern within those dark shades. There can also be a bar of metal in Thursday, a rounded bar that occasionally emerges from within the dark, silent colors. Thursday is a beautiful day. It’s your favorite day of the week.

Friday is a patterned green, a mix of greens: the green of maple leaves in mid-summer and also the green of those leaves when darkened by rain. The pattern that shifts on the surface of Friday is the same sort of leafy light that plays across your skin when you’re lying in your treehouse. Friday is shades of green with shadows.

Saturday is gray-blue, light and porous, especially Saturday mornings. As the day wears on, Saturday darkens in shade but never solidifies; it is a day that retains its foaminess.

Sunday? Yellow, of course, although a yellow that doesn’t take its shade from the sun of its namesake. Sunday is an unchanging shade, a buttery yellow but a shade less dense than implied by the word ‘buttery.’ Sunday is an evaporating sort of day and so is its color.

Monday is dark gray but see-through. Monday is a color like looking through a fine-mesh screen window. Monday is an early color day and it stays dark screen gray until midnight, when it turns into Tuesday, and the chamois mustard-dun returns.

These are the way the days of the week appear to you. They’ve appeared this way all your life, each with its own color and texture and solid or diffuse light and patterns. You always assumed that everyone lived their days out with the same sense of color and texture, just the way that others see all the words spoken around them scrolling across the bottom of the movie screen in their brains, but guess what? Not everyone does. Strange.


  1. Karen · August 7, 2013

    Love this. I don’t see colors for each day, myself, but it makes sense to me that other people do. Makes me wonder if I just haven’t paid close-enough attention.


  2. Lauren Rader · August 10, 2013

    I bet, like many people, that I’d been the friend you’d met that day.
    Beautiful. Thank you for writing.


  3. alison · August 12, 2013

    Karen, it wouldn’t surprise me if you hear music when you see colors. 🙂


  4. alison · August 12, 2013

    Lauren, that is such a lovely thing to say. Thank you. ❤


  5. Erin · November 26, 2013

    Thank you for mentioning this. I found out, quite by accident, that my 10-year-old daughter sees days of the week (and numbers, letters of the alphabet, and people she knows) as having an inherent color. She was trying to describe something to me and said, “You know how Thursday is cranberry red?” I had to tell her that no, I didn’t know that. She’s been kind of timid about anybody finding out, for fear they’ll think there’s something wrong with her. I’m glad to be able to tell her that one of our favorite authors enjoys the same enhancements!

    Thanks again,
    Erin (who, I’m told, is purple)


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