Secrets Hidden in a Book Cover

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a book cover surely tells an entire story, giving out clues to the unexpected secrets hidden inside the pages it guards.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of writing a guest post or lovely Jen Lucas, Book Reviewer & Blogger extraordinaire 🙂 about the secrets hidden in the book cover of Silent Heroes. Without giving much away, know that I wrote about a soldier and his dog, a sunset and a pair of mysterious Afghan eyes.

Silent Heroes - Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes – Patricia Furstenberg

But there is more to an image, as the colors used hold symbols and learning about them opens the mind to more secrets hidden in that book cover, in plain sight.

The choice of red, brown and gold colors for the Silent Heroes image cover was not coincidental.

Brown and its hidden meanings in my book cover

Silent Heroes secrets hidden book cover

Brown is a color I began to associate with the Afghan desert, its mountains, and the desert camouflage uniform of the US Marines.

Brown is the earth, solid, reliable, our home. It this context brown symbolizes stability, warmth, reliability. Mother Earth means fertility for all nations, it nurtures us all, no matter of the language we speak. Zuhause, acasa, tuis, a casa, sa bhaile, дома, בבית, doma… home is where we belong and brown is its soil, although in many tints: auburn, copper, russet, terracotta.

Yet brown is also a war color. Brown are the soldier’s uniforms, their faces, covered in dust, their vehicles and their sandy tracks, brown are their tents and the wrappers of their prepacked meals ready to eat, MREs.

And also brown are the deserted villages where the last of the Afghanistan’s wars still take place today. Brown are the ruins that ones stood tall, the walls that ones heard the laughter of a woman and the squeal of a child, the singing voice of a father and the whisper of the night.

Gold, guarding the treasured secrets of a book cover

Gold, Silent Heroes, Afghanistan Mountains

Where is all the wealth, you will ask, for gold is for riches.

Gold is the sun, I answer, in it’s daily promise for new hope, new beginnings, of warmth and cheer. The sun’ golden light shares courage and wisdom; don’t we see the world as a better place on a sunny day? Don’t we find life’s problem’s more manageable on a bright day?

And gold also symbolizes compassion and wisdom. Compassion, like the one shared by many soldiers in the lines of duty. Wisdom, reflected in the life choices of many civilians caught in battles. To show commendation, we award soldiers a gold star, yet so many citizens are deserving of it. I know at least two in Silent Heroes.

Red, guarding life-threatening secrets

Silent Heroes - secrets hidden book cover


Red is assertive, it speaks of passion, of rage and strong emotions. I thought it represents best the tumultuous history of Afghanistan, with its countless wars and struggles for power. The many foreign leaders that fought to own this piece of land, the wrath and malice they brought along, but also the determination of the Afghan people, they desire to set themselves free from aliens, their passion for freedom. In this context, red speaks of the loss of human life, of sacrifice, of action.

Red is also packed with emotions like passion, love (of life, of one’s country), but also fury and a quick temper, like that of many Afghan warriors.

Red is one of the colors of the Afghanistan’s flag, where it symbolizes the blood shed by those who fought for the country’s independence, but also progress.

Silent Heroes

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

What do colors mean to you?

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Lurid, Autumn’s Gold

Lurid, Autumn's Gold

The morning mist enveloped autumn’s shades
And auburn, crimson, scarlet –
They all paled
And blended into lurid,
The yellow pale.
Beneath the nascent sky.

Lurid, Autumn’s Gold

If lurid mushrooms come your way,
They’re good and healthy and they should stay
For supper, if they may.
But bright ones, picked in Autumn…
Stay away!
Or you own skin will turn lurid…
One day.

Lurid Autumn's Gold

I let them fly,
Between the Autumn’s wings,
My dreams,
Like lurid ghosts amid the yellow leaves.

Lurid Autumn's Gold

Some words carry an emotional burden, like lurid. Used in 17th century to describe stages of bruising and corpses, lurid sipped into nature: lifeless, pale, yellowish leaves of Autumn… Then it floated to ghastly light… And, finally, made the shocking news.

Taliban destroyig the Bamiyan Buddhas. Lurid, Autumn's Gold

The ghastly, lurid light that covered the Afghan earth when Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001. You can read about this in my latest book, Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for.

I hope you enjoyed Lurid, Autumn’s Gold . You might also like to read:

Feuille-Morte and A Nightingale in Autumn

A Journey through the Medieval City of Sighisoara, Romania

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Autumn and a Cat with Gamboge Eyes

gamboge. autumn @PatFurstenberg

If you’re lucky you get to witness Autumn capturing the last heat of the summer’s sun in its deep yellow leaves.
Gamboge canopy.
Powdery like saffron, spicy like mustard.

Autumn. A gamboge canopy. @PatFurstenberg
Gamboge canopy

Dressed-up in her best sepia, with eyes of mustard gamboge, the cat thought of herself as one of Autumn’s leaves as she purred among amber and crimson.
Now… the bird will come.

Cat with gamboge eyes between autumn leaves. @PatFurstenberg
Cat with gamboge eyes between autumn leaves

Gamboge fills up my mouth when I say it. So fitting to describe autumn’s vivid yellows!

Gamboge arrived to us from Latin gambogium. It most probably has ties with the gum resin extracted from trees and used as a yellow pigment in art, trees of southeast Asia. Initially, the resin is orange-brown, but it becomes bright yellow when turned to powder.

Yes, gamboge, also spelled camboge, is family with the noun cambugium, most probably deriving from Camboja, the word Portuguese seafarers used for Cambodia in 1600. Cambodia is one of the countries where the trees producing gamboge are indigenous.

Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634.

Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt's portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634
Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634
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Feuille-Morte and A Nightingale in Autumn

Autumn is splashing out its colors, giving away her best dead leaves, feuilles mortes. If I would describe Fall to you as the season with brownish-orange dry leaves, would I get your attention?

Feuille-morte

Dead leaves, dry leaves, faded, brownish-yellow.
Boring.

Feuille morte, sun’s promise captured in amber.
The spicy scent of cinnamon steaming from childhood’s pumpkin pies. Crunching in my mouth to the cadence of feuille mortes underneath my feet.
Autumn.

Feuilles-mortes, dead leaves, autumn colors
Feuilles-mortes, dead leaves, autumn colors

Nightingale in Autumn

Masked by a philamot leaf,
Its faded hue a match for the grey plumage
Of the Philomela perched behind, on a twig –
Or was she hiding, aware of her tune, a heavenly image?

@PatFurstenberg
Philamot color, Philomela - Nightingale, in Autumn
Philamot color, Philomela – Nightingale, in Autumn

Philamot, sometimes spelled philomot, is another word describing autumn’s yellow-brown foliage (feuille).

I hope you will return to my blog for more autumn colors and words.

Speaking of words and seasons, you might like to sneak a peek inside my Christmas Haiku book:

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