Friday, April 21, 2017

The Iris and the Pupil

Iris, the eye of spring


Walking among the colors and contrasts of seasonal flowers refreshes and rejuvenates my soul in any season or locale. 




This year the fall colors of the trees seemed less radiant than usual; my golf ball appeared to be a lighter shade of pale gray that my eyes couldn't follow in the clouds; the manicured flowers of the desert weren't as radiant as I expected. 



I blamed the rainy day for blurring my vision and nearly stepping into a prickly cactus. 

Realizing that my cataracts had worsened, I decided to have them removed. 

I cleared my calendar, gave up some spring golf time, stepped away from reading and writing for a month, and delegated shoveling and planting chores to Jack so my grey jello like cataracts could be replaced with new Crystalline lenses. 



Surgery on one eye at a time starting with my non-dominate eye, the right one, changed my world like walking through a Monet garden might do. I didn't realize how much I was missing in our world of color and detail until the cataract surgery opened my right eye to a bright new world, and I became the pupil once again asking questions about eyesight.




Notice the clarity and lighter color of my right eye, as opposed to my left.  A few days after the first surgery I began looking at every flower and every scene with my left eye closed. The iris, working like a diaphragm on a camera, controls the amount of light reaching the back of the eye and automatically adjusts the size of the pupil. Now with the new Crystalens lens, my eye sees bright colors, tiny leaves budding on the trees, birds sitting on high branches cheerfully calling to me. 



With my right eye this is what I see now.


With my left eye this is what I see and have been seeing with both eyes for the last ten years.















This pupil learned that as a cataract grows or ages, it becomes more like two day old jello that gets sticky and thick. It could cast hues of gray, yellow, or green. Everyone's cataracts are different. Often overlooked is the aqueous humour, the clear liquid in the eye that supplies the nutrition we need to clearly see. 
 
Years ago I told stories about the trolls who freely roamed the Norwegian mountains and valleys at night causing mischief in peoples lives. They slept by day and roamed by night, seeing and living the opposite life of the people in the valleys. If a troll peeked at the sun it turned to stone, or it burst into millions of splinters and often a splinter would end up in the eye of human causing the human to see things askew, so that what appears right to them seems wrong to others. 

Now as I look out on a clear world with one eye and a blurred world with the other, I wonder about those Troll splinters. Could they affect our perceptions? Perhaps it is that slight touch of humor which allows each of us to see things differently.  







*Thanks to Dr. Kurt Weir at Southwest Eye Clinic in OKC, and Dr. Jake Smith at Classic Vision for giving me a new look on the world.    



Thursday, April 6, 2017

In My Hand




Once we lived on ten acres of wooded hillside. The spacious windows in our split level native stone home looked up and down the hills that were dotted with gnarly old Black Jack Oaks. One day while sitting at the window watching the birds at the feeder I noticed a hummingbird that seem to be struggling at the sweet water feeder.  The hummingbird’s wings fluttered, then its tiny body fell slightly, as if it couldn’t back out of the feeder.  I soon realized that the bird’s tiny beak was stuck in the feeder.





I rushed to the rescue. Upon climbing the kitchen ladder I noticed that large black ants filled the feeder. The hummingbird’s beak apparently had stuck an ant inside the sweet water and couldn’t pull back out. I watched the tiny bird fight to back out. Slowly, I lifted by arm and hand to the bird.  Placing my hand around the tiny bird to help in some way, I held it still and felt the beating heart hammering in a body the size of my thumb. But nothing I could do helped. At last, I pulled the hummingbird away from the feeder breaking his beak in the process.




I cried for the injured bird, and screamed and kicked the dirt at the black ants who’d caused this pain. I carried the tiny bird in the palm of my hand for a few minutes, feeling his heart beat and tiny flutters of his wings before he died. Then I placed him in my pink bougainvillea growing in the back yard.



With tears running down my cheeks I thought of an old story about the Elephant and the Hummingbird.

Once when elephant went walking through the jungle he saw a tiny hummingbird lying flat on its back along the path.  The bird’s feet were raised up into the air.
“What on earth are you doing?” chuckled the elephant?
Hummingbird replied, “Didn’t you hear? The sky might fall today and if that should happen, I’m ready to do my part to hold it up.”
Elephant looked upwards and saw the heavy gray clouds. Then he laughed and mocked at the tiny bird, “So you think those tiny feet of yours could hold up that sky?”
“No, not alone I can’t, but with a little help from my friends we can. What will you do elephant?"





* Thank you to Jim Smith, Alex Beury, and Carol Torpey for these lovely hummingbird pictures. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Among the Wolves



I read this gem, tucked among the words of Louise Penny in her novel The Beautiful Mystery which takes place in a monastery in the wilderness of  North Eastern Quebec, Canada:

“I hope we learn from it,” the abbot said turning to Inspector Gamache, after the Chief Inspector had solved the mystery of a recent murder in the monastery of the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. “What lesson will you learn?” Gamache inquired.
The abbot thought about it. “Do you know why our emblem is two wolves intertwined?” Gamache replied with his theory, only to be corrected by the abbot. “No, the emblem is from a native story of the Montagnais.”  
“Don Clement relates it in his diaries. One of the elders told him that when he was a boy his grandfather came to him one day and said he had two wolves fighting inside of him. One was gray, the other black. The gray one wanted his grandfather to be courageous, patient, and kind. The other, the black one, wanted his grandfather to be fearful and cruel. This upset the boy and he thought about it for a few days then returned to his grandfather. He asked, ‘Grandfather, which of the wolves will win?’ “
The Old Man in the Tree, Dodgeville, Wisc. 

The abbot smiled slightly. “Do you know what his grandfather said?” The Inspector shook his head. “The one I feed,” replied the abbot.
Gamache looked at the monastery; he’d mistranslated the emblem. Not Saint Gilbert among the wolves, but between them. In that place of perpetual choice. (chapter. 34)

Like Inspector Gamache, I pondered this story then smiled.  This is why I enjoy Louise Penny’s books so much. Many of her explanations are lines from poetry, mythology, Bible, folklore, and literature. She asks her readers to think about the problem, the mystery, or an aspect of life that the characters must also deal with.  As Inspector Gamache knows, each of us deals with perpetual choice. 

I found myself thinking ahead to choices I need to make and then smiled.  There’s something about giving a situation a story that makes it easier for me to solve and think through. I can see more clearly what I’m feeding and what I’m denying. 

Perspective and choice! So many ways to relate to this story.