Vol. 1 Issue 2 July/August 2004
Black fly season just ended and northern Maine has finally thawed. If you can’t visit us in person, visit virtually. Listen to the trill of the American toad, hear the black-capped chickadee -- our state bird -- while you walk the trails of our virtual nature center. Visit www.nhest.org/penquis/index.html to see what it’s like where we live.
Can you quilt? Know how to raise prize-winning pumpkins? Ever churned butter or baked homemade bread? If you want us to consider your country skill for our next book, e-mail your thoughts to email@example.com. We’ll send writers guidelines and talk about your ideas.
“Wilderlust” Publisher Profiles Editor
Serendipitous Site Surfing
In October of 2003 I received through the NHEST Web site a polite request for information on blind birders from a freelance writer named Chrissy Laws. I found out she lives just north of me in Maine. After an exchange of e-mails and a strong recommendation from Nolan Crabb of Dialogue magazine, Chrissy became editor of a book on blindness and the outdoors sponsored by NHEST and Maine Marketplace Books. As such she has been a delight to work with, kind but demanding, helpful and more. She’s even undertaken to educate her publisher, a truly daunting task.
Working on “Wilderlust”
The title of the book, “Wilderlust,” was her idea. The articles selection, the handholding, the hard work -- all those were her doing. “I think it’s an important book,” she says. “The cover shows what a visually impaired artist can do. The title itself tells much of the story. Wilderlust is a coined word that means the desire to experience the outdoor world. No matter what sensory package we happen to have, we can learn from each other how to fulfill that desire.
“Too many people give up when they lose their vision, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Look at the people featured in ‘Wilderlust.’ They participate in the world and help shape it.”
And so she soon found herself busy with other projects. She now edits this newsletter and she handles other fund-raising duties for NHEST, too.
From MA to ME
When I first found out she was a Mainer, I imagined a female version of the toothpick-chewing old timer in denim offering laconic comment to the tourists from “away.” But then I found out that she, too, is from away. She had lived in Maine less than six months when she first contacted me. We’re still trying to teach her to say “Ayuh.” To see whethah you’re really from Maine, visit www.mainehumor.com/youknow.htm.
Living way down south in Massachusetts, she and her husband, Jason, decided they had to get out of the city. The houses they checked out were a mixed lot. As she writes for Abilities magazine, one impressively cheap house was priced so low because it was labeled “unfit for human habitation.” They looked at so much property that her cry of “Jason, this is it! I’ve found our house!” roused little excitement after awhile, she reports in the same article. Read the whole story at www.enablelink.org/abilities/archive.html?article=2082.
Outside Without Sight
“I like new things -- exciting things -- and many times these would be outside,” Chrissy says. “When I met Jason, he was into backpacking, rock climbing, hiking and camping. So I did those things. When I was little, I’d go fishing, ice skating, sledding, bike riding, the usual kid stuff. Later I went sailing, canoeing and such.”
But the spirit of adventure is tempered in her by a fear of big changes. When they moved, she missed the familiar places and things. Adapting to a new environment takes time for anybody, but a visual impairment (Peter’s Anomaly) adds to the adjustment some. “But now I can’t imagine going back.”
Writing Between the Lines
Her writing tells much about her. Some of the work I have seen from her teenage years shows the same wry humor that hides between the lines of her current writing, waiting to pop out and give the reader a grin. Her degree in political science could have led her in one direction, but she chose family and writing instead.
Chrissy has a vision for this newsletter. She wants it to be fun and interesting, something people look for. It can be a means for introducing people to that universal wilderlust. “I want it to be a forum for ideas and for questions, so I hope people will write to us.”
Chrissy Laws will make it happen. She found the outdoor book and newsletter as vague, undefined ideas and turned them into reality.
-- Don Tarbet, NHEST and Maine Marketplace Books
Come to CampInterested in boating, crafts and nature walks? This July and August, Visions Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired will run several camp sessions. Located 30 miles north of New York City, the camp provides fun and educational activities. For more information visit www.visionsvcb.org, call (845) 354-3003 or e-mail Visions: firstname.lastname@example.org. New York too far? Visit www.mysummercamps.com/camps/Special_Needs_Camps/Visually_Impaired/ for more camp listings.
A reader wondered if there were any blind sailing organizations; we found one called Blind Sailing International. Learn more about it at www.blindsailing.org. Do you have a question about the outdoors or other things that affect blind and visually impaired people? Ask NHEST at email@example.com.
“The Coast of Summer: Sailing New England Waters From Shelter Island to Cape Cod.” By Anthony Bailey. RC 39575.
Looking for indoor adventures? Check out www.pagebypagebooks.com. It offers tons of books you can read for free! Everything from “Anne of Green Gables” to “White Fang.”
“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.”
-- Groucho Marx
NHEST Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides educational and recreational opportunities for blind and visually impaired people of all ages. We would much appreciate your suggestions, and please consider giving a tax-deductible donation of any size. Thank you!
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