To most adults, a tree is just a tree. It’s something to plant, trim, pick fruit from, or cut down as desired. When I was seven, I became extremely fond of one which grew in a field near the dormitories. in my Deliverance From Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School> memoir, I explained why this decorative landscape item became a source of comfort for me.
Wandering off on my own was the only way I could cope with the chronic misery I felt. During my excursions, I noticed a medium-sized tree which grew in the field between the school and the bowling alley. It was the only one on the grounds suitable for climbing. The trees behind the school were too scrawny and the ones by the Administration building were too large.
The tree became my favourite place to forget the heartbreak of Jericho. I spent hours embraced in its strong brown branches as I created many adventure stories in my mind. I enjoyed the shade and smell of its golden leaves and the sense of being away from people. In my living cocoon, I could imagine wondrous exploits without boys intruding or supervisors disturbing me. This tree eventually felt so much like a friend that I began to imagine that “he” was a magical being.
One gloomy day, construction workers cordoned off the field and bull dozers ripped out my woody companion. Nobody explained to me why the men were doing this. “They’re knocking down your favourite tree,” Steve gleefully announced.
I ran to the barricade and peered at the hole where my beloved tree once stood. Steve laughed as I silently grieved the loss of my only true friend in that place of strangers.
In Deliverance from Jericho, I related many other occasions when trees, birds, and the fantasy stories of talking animals deeply touched me. This memoir is available at Bruce Atchison’s books web site.
Though the tales of a partially-sighted Canadian boy might seem of interest only to vision loss professionals, the book is written in a style that all can relate to. Please let any of your acquaintances and friends who work in those fields know about this memoir.