Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 07 04: Journal Excerpt Page 44 July 4, 2017

That winter of 2012 introduced me to another group of people, but some were the same that I had met at the 2011 ACB fall convention. This new group of amazement made up the Blind Bowlers of Central Maine, and as a new found family collectively made their way towards me, a new sense of belonging found its way into my life.

 

I was petrified at the first thought of trying to bowl blind, and at first I thought it was a joke, I mean, how can someone who is blind, bowl? It just didn’t make sense to me, so I just sort of shrugged it off as a chance to get to know some new people, one of whom was a fellow by the name of Rolfe Frost.

 

I had met Rolfe back in the spring of 2011, when he gave me a ride home from the employment assessment testing I had done at the Career Center in Augusta. Leona had set me up for the testing, and Rolfe gave me a ride home. We instantly struck up a nice conversation that lasted the whole trip back home, and for me, there was something about this guy that put me at ease, and allowed me to feel completely comfortable as we chatted it up.

 

Rolfe is, well, it’s hard for me to find words to correctly describe him. He has a heart of gold, and I am blessed to have met him, along with this new family of visually impaired people, and many, many more.

 

Blind Bowlers of Maine. It sounded really weird back then at first, but as time went by, it took on a whole new meaning for me. As the Saturday event became something that I looked forward to, I realized that I was slowly becoming one of them, one of the Blind Bowlers. I had found an incredible place where I fit in. I had found a group of people that I had something in common with. I became a Blind Bowler, and it felt comfortably normal.

 

Now I have to tell you that through my life, I was a ferociously competitive candlepin bowler. The first time I picked up a ball and rolled it down the alley, I was hooked, and I instantly became good at it. From an early age, I waited for the chance to step onto the hardwood lanes and slide towards the black line, releasing the ball. As it made that sweet, unmistakeable sound of rolling down the aisle, it hypnotized me until it crashed through the pins. That crashing sound, that explosion of pin action was the most beautiful sound in the world to me, and I just couldn’t get enough.

 

The years went by, and the trophies piled up. Our whole family was very competitive, and we all loved to bowl. My sister Terri was the best of our clan, and I was always chasing her abilities.

 

Anyway, the first time I stepped onto the lanes being visually impaired, bowling took on a new meaning for me. The hardest thing for me was the feeling of embarrassment. The humility, the pride that I had to swallow was one of the hardest things I have ever done.I went from a championship bowler, to a blind bowler in the blink of a blind eye, and as another part of my past stood beside me, I tied my bowling shoes, stepped onto the lanes, fumbled for a ball, stepped awkwardly three times towards where I thought the black line was, and quickly rolled a speedy gutter ball.

 

Did I mention how I cringed? Did I mention the pang of pain that ran down through me? Did I mention the smile that slowly crept across my face as I stepped back and tried to find another ball? How about the fact that shortly thereafter I rolled another gutter ball?

 

Those trips down to Augusta during the winter months became one of the highlights of my life. I grew very fond of sitting at the tables near the scorer’s desk, and just listening to the sounds. The crashing of the pins, the gutter balls, the camaraderie, it all took me back to the reasons why I loved to bowl. A complete package of time, wrapped in friendship, family and fun.

 

I thank you Mr. Frost for your friendship, your dedication and for your kindness of heart.

 

Well the winter rolled on, and so did my O&M lessons with Rosemary. Trudging through the snow with a white cane sweeping in front of me wasn’t my idea of having fun, but what an amazing opportunity to gather in my senses. The sounds of winter crunching under my feet was an experience like no other I had ever been through. A white cane in front of me, a pretty lady ten steps behind me, an intimidating world wrapped tightly around me, it all led me towards my future, and although it seemed dull and hazy, it brought certain things towards me that I never knew existed.

 

There were many aspects of winter mobility that changed my perceptions. The snow had very sneaky characteristics that I soon found very annoying, and as the tip of my cane packed full of snow and ice, my worries and fears of the unknown were met head on by an unrelenting show of force by Her Magesty, Mother Nature.

 

To be continued…

 

2016 12 16 Holiday Poem: The Tipping Stick December 16, 2016

A dozen or so years ago, my family and I went down east Maine over Thanksgiving. My cousin’s family were into the wreath making business back then, and on one November’s morning, my cousin’s husband asked my son and I if we would like to join him to go tipping. This was the task of collecting tips from the branches of fir trees, to use for making wreaths. The trick was to only snap off a short part of the tips, so as to leave the trees in good shape to grow and keep supplying tips for the seasons to come. Upon snapping the tips, you would stuff the tips down onto a long stick until it was filled from top to bottom, approximately six feet tall. The Tipping Stick had a rope tied on one end that was used to secure the tips to the stick. Hauling a couple of these out of the woods was quite a chore, seeing as how the sticks, when filled, could weigh roughly fifty pounds each. .

I didn’t do too well tipping, I mean, I collected the tips fast enough, and filled a tipping stick or two, but I was snapping the tips too long for making really good wreaths. They required those making the wreaths to snap them again to bring them to the correct length.

The line in the poem referring to the Empty Rings is describing the steel rings that are used to make the wreaths. Until the tips were collected and taken to the wreath making shop, the empty rings sat stacked up in a corner, all alone and patiently awaiting the arrival of the fresh tips.

Anyway, a few years ago, we lost the best tipper that down east Maine ever knew, and this poem is dedicated to him.

***

The Tipping Stick

A Poem dedicated to Si

Trudge on, into the wood at daylights first call

The smell of the morning fir awakens the spirit

Daydreams of autumn unfold onto a shimmering dew

Eyes from the trees build with curiosity from above

Daylight’s growing rays scatter through branch and limb

With sticks at hand, and readied, the gathering begins

Through, over, around, into, under and beyond

Snap and pull, twist and push, pack and stack

Pausing to listen, the harmonies of the winds continue their song

Grace from high above settles a comforting hand onto the morn

Footsteps crisp with crackling leaf echo through the rolling wood

One by one, the tipping sticks fill with scent and shape

A white tailed gaze sends a charge through the heart

Tiny, scampering feet bring a warming smile

Morning doves and jays dance their chorus through the fir

Woodpecker and chick a dee tag along with familiar tune

Chilled breeze through the autumn wood bids a welcoming call

White birch lean in as they watch with curiosity

Morning shadows shorten as the day grows tall

Heavied sticks carry with them the magical smells of the season

Empty holiday rings patiently await the scented harvest

Hearty smiles reward and praise the morning’s heavy chore

As the sticks are emptied, the wooded fir sings out again with its beckoning call

A chilled November breeze welcomes the tipping footsteps once again