The Oxford dictionary defines orange as a ‘bright colour that is between red and yellow’, such as, There was a warm orange glow in the sky. Of course, it also sparks the debate of whether the fruit orange is named because it is orange, or if it is the inspiration behind the colour itself.
I never found orange to be a particularly profound colour. As a kid my proudly chosen favourite colours were red and pink. I imagine most of this decision came about when I learnt the meaning of my name: ‘a precious stone ranging from deep crimson to pale rose.’ I didn’t entertain the concept of blue or other cool colours until my late teen years where I wore silver hoop earrings with a single pale blue glass bead on them.
If someone were to ask my favourite colour now, it would be a deep and husky orange. It is also citrus season now, and spring is bringing in tangerines and mandarins, orange by the kilo.
Coincidentally, it is also the colour of the Busybird door, walls and logo.
I have been thinking a lot about the influence of the colourful digital world on reading, particularly in relation to attention span.
As a kid, I was glued to books. I suspect 98% of adults going into the publishing world were the same at some stage. This noticeably changed when I got my first iPod touch when I was twelve. I would say it was a slow filter out of books replaced by Instagram sepia toned filters and reading trivial Facebook statuses. It wasn’t immediate, and it was never an all or nothing situation, but it was a definite cause and effect.
In the last few years, I have made a conscious effort to get back into reading and immersing myself in the written world, as the shortening of videos through TikTok and ‘reels’ have attempted to do the opposite. Getting out of the virtual world is a big part of why I drove across the country two years ago and doing an internship here seemed like an amazing opportunity, and an obvious next step.
I just got back to Busybird after two weeks away, visiting Broome in the far northwest of the country. The remote, desert rolling into the sea life of the town is unique and something that radiates a soft, addictive glow to so many visitors, passing through or permanent.
Broome is softly ruled by the moon; king tides wash into Roebuck Bay and out again to make way for the Staircase to the Moon, and people abide by the daily and monthly lunar calendar events. The colours of the pindan in the dirt stain everything, from your car tyres to your toes, orange. The contrast of this to the bright blue of the churning ocean is an iconic Australian image.
I lived there last year through both the Man-gala (wet) and Wirralburu (dry) seasons. I would watch the sunset on Cable Beach whenever I could, even taking my assignments down to the beach if that was the only way I could get a quick swim in.
I moved to Melbourne this year, to finish my Arts degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in media/communications, with a minor in law and justice. Even though I have spent a lot of time here in the past, adjusting to the city is a big change from growing up in Tasmania and living in a rural outback town.
I think something I have missed most (aside from the orange dirt and stark, contrasting colours), is the friendly openness and sense of community that comes in such a small, transient place.
Doing an internship at Busybird has grounded that for me a bit more. Where it is easy to feel like a cog in the system at university, doing something that is hands on, engaging, and tickles the wordy, creative part of my brain, has been so welcome. The Busybird studio is a colourful, lively space and Les, Kev and Oscar are encouraging of learning all the publishing bits n’ bobs through biscuits, 80s music and rare Rubik’s cubes.
As someone who has always been drawn to storytelling, whether it be through reading, writing, or acting, it has been so great to see the behind the scenes of what goes on in the publishing world.
Being able to go back to Broome last week was great in many ways, but particularly because I felt ready to be back in the city, a surprising realisation to come to.
My internship is a comfortable, exciting part of my everyday routine that I’m so grateful for.
Ruby van der Walt