Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blind gardening

"I could tell my husband now about Goodman in the garden. I raised Goodman myself—solid black Lab—and, after a year gave him up, the way you do, for further training and a life with Alice Banks. Alice was a gardener. She and her husband relaxed on weekends tending beds of annuals and several kinds of tomatoes. When Alice and Goodman graduated from the program, Alice said I was welcome to stay in touch. It is always the Blind person's call."

from The Dog Of The Marriage, a short story by Amy Hempel

I had nearly finished the collected stories of Amy Hempel the last time I was on break from teaching. Maybe it was being on break which brought me back.

I stopped while reading and wondered... can you garden blind? Blind gardening, can you imagine? I try. I imagine the difficulties. The struggle. How much of gardening for me is a visual joy? With that gone...

I end up pondering the state of my spirit if I was to lose my vision. Would I become deflated and bitter? What would happen to those things for which I have a passion?

My students come to school as I would enter blind to a garden... every right to be bitter. Paper and pen... words and numbers... these things make school a hard place filled with failures. It is my job more than any other to show them the joy that can happen in a classroom. Sometimes I can do this, with their help.

If I become blind, I hope to remember to find those who bring joy into my life. So now I I imagine entering my garden blind, but I am not lost and alone for I am guided by my friends, family, and one hip black Lab.

want to help a blind gardener... check this out.


8 comments:

SusanGardenChick said...

Wayne, what a thoughtful post. Your teaching experiences are clearly influencing your world view, and vice versa.

Wayne Stratz said...

Susan--- thanks for the comment. I was wondering if this post would get any... some nerve asking gardeners to imagine being blind.

Dana said...

the students do have a teacher who is legally blind and he is a positive example...many work around a disability or craft a life that does not involve great suffering...we live...

walk2write said...

As usual, I've had a lot on my plate and almost missed one of the most meaningful posts of the week. One of the most delightful aspects of gardening for me involves watching the growth of the plants and looking for the fruits of my labor. I hope I don't ever have that row to hoe, so to speak, but it would require one to take more time studying the nuances that a sighted person often overlooks. Thanks for the thought-provocation, as always, Mr. S.

Wayne Stratz said...

Dana--- Yes, I thought of my friend to whom you refer when I wrote this... who once played goalie in a student staff soccer game. as well as another friend who is "legally blind" and created wonderful wooden bowls in his wood turning studio. Both live full lives though they can not drive. What I can not predict is how I will react to great loss in my life, all I can do is hope that I do what you say... live a full life.

walk2write-- thanks for your kind words. Maybe I will appreciate the joy of watching the garden more this year.

kris at t.m. said...

I've thought a lot about gardening color-blind if not blind-blind... I think that's where my love and appreciation of green flowers comes from. But I remember last spring, closing my eyes and letting my nose - and the dog - lead me down the street. Other senses pick up where one leaves off. It's good to remember that - thank you.

Dana said...

one year the students watched newsreel footage of Helen Keller lecturing and my son was interested enough to read her autobiography. Her other senses were heightened, which is probably what would happen to you. I gather that a full life may include an active interior life when your senses are impaired. plus you might tap spirituality rather than ask why this happened. at least for my family, the key is dignity.driving, since you touched on it, is no longer cool amoung 16 year olds where we live.they don't want to sit for hours in the traffic jams of the greater Philadelphia area, plus the Green Life consideration. I keep thinking of the water analogy in Taoism, where one hits a wall and continues in an unexpected way. More than half the time it turns out to be way more fun. you know I write this as a fellow seeker, not preachy...

Wayne Stratz said...

Kris--- the first thing I imagined was a rose bush... They get me enough when I think I see what I am doing.

Dana-- I grew up where there were no forms of public transportation and no traffic jams. We were ready to drive by the time we hit 16.