By: Theresa Sweeney-Smith
Fall is a beautiful season. The cooler air hits my cheeks as I walk outside in the morning. I can smell the smoke from the leaves burning in my neighborhood. It is noticeable, even with my limited vision, that it becomes darker each day. Everyone talks about the leaves turning bright colors of yellow and orange.
Falls beauty comes to an end long before the date on the calendar indicates the “first day of winter” and the icy temperatures and snow make winters in Wisconsin seem way too long.
The difficulties that winter brings for some people include always feeling cold and getting tired of shoveling and digging out your car. For me as a visually impaired person, it becomes difficult to walk to the car as my cane is simply ineffective. My husband can shovel, and by the time we have to leave, the snow is again on the sidewalk and the sidewalk is now too narrow for us to walk together. He is stuck either pulling or pushing me and our motto goes, “Just do your best, Dear.” It is frightening not to be able to recognize the icy parking lot until I have taken several steps and then have to determine if I should go back or go forward.
For all of these reasons, I cannot help but think about spring. It is my favorite time of year.
When I head out the door, I take a few steps and walk through my first puddle of the season where the snow has melted onto the sidewalk. I feel the warmer temperatures of the 50’s and 60’s on my face and notice that the sun is really very warm now. The air smells fresh, and I know that even with the remnants of snow on the ground, within a month, I will be celebrating tulips and daffodils in my yard and smelling the lilac bushes as they start to bloom.
As the days grow shorter in the fall, now I can tell it is light outside when I rise at 6:00 a.m., and I can hear the birds chirping outside my window. My husband makes me laugh with his commentary on the antics of the squirrels running up and down the trees.
My husband walks me down the squishy grass in our backyard to the shore of the lake we live on, and I can feel the coolness of the ice that remains on the lake. I can hear the cracking as the warm air blows over the ice causing it to melt.
The neighbor greets us with his “smiling voice.” This is the same “smiling voice” I hear from many neighbors as they can finally get outside without being stung by the bitter cold.
The smell of brats on the grill and the voice of Brewer baseball announcers lifts my spirits. This is the time of year I get a little more independence. I can work in my garden and clean out the leaves without fear of bees that stop me in late summer. I can use my cane again to get from the house to the car and from the car to my office. I begin to network with volunteer groups and become excited about the community events we are planning and the part I will take in their success.
Just like all of my sighted friends, I am happy to say “goodbye” to winter and I am thinking spring!