Braille Monitor                         January 2021

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Tolling Bells and Ocean Swells

by Stacie Dubnow

Stacie DubnowFrom the Editor: I have been blessed with the opportunity to talk with classes, civic organizations, and radio and television audiences about blindness as a result of my membership in the National Federation of the Blind. One question that always comes up is what perception I have of color. Until recently I considered it one of the easier questions to tackle. Never having been able to see, I haven’t a clue about what color is other than the scientific explanation that it is the bending of light. My traditional answer has been that I cannot understand color any more than a deaf person can understand the difference between the sound of a flute and the sound of a guitar, but I now have reason to believe that answer isn’t quite so easy. Immediate Past President Maurer says that when he hears a color, he has an image of it in his mind. Perhaps I have too quickly dismissed the possibility of what can be learned. The author of this article certainly believes so.

Stacie works as a project manager at the Jernigan Institute. She has a law degree and is wonderful at doing research and bringing organization to any project. But as important as all of this is, her real passion is writing. She says:

 Writing has long been my passion, what gives me purpose. Over the last ten years, I have written two young adult coming-of-age novels: The Gathering Wall and its sequel, The Gathering Winds. My most recent project is a memoir, Can You Hear Me Now? It is about the addictive nature of motherhood and the challenges faced daily by parents raising a child with serious mental illness. As some of you may know, nearly three years ago I lost my son Noah.

In my memoir, I strip bare my parenting decisions, examining my struggle to be the parent Noah needed. I reflect on what my choices cost me, but also how my choices gifted me the moments that, when woven together, formed the tapestry of my painful and beautiful twenty-six-year mother-son relationship. Although my memoir provides no easy answers, it shines a bright light on penetrating questions that countless parents struggle to answer daily. It demonstrates the importance of unconditional love and never giving up on our children. I hope that by telling my story, I can provide insight to other parents raising children living with mental illness, share my knowledge and experience, teach readers what I learned too late, and provide helpful resources that will offer education, support, and vital services to ease the journey of others.

I have submitted my memoir for publication and currently am not so patiently waiting to hear back from potential publishers. But in the meantime, I am diving into some smaller projects, like the following prose about the experience of color.

I am red.

Red is the color of hot pavement and temper. An angry retort. I am a startled expression. A pounding pulse. Red is glamour, rubies, and love. A smoldering gaze, mouth warm on the skin. I am a shrieking siren and a roaring rollercoaster. I am cherry lips, flashing lights, and thick woolen socks. Red is raw and chapped. A sun-warmed tomato. I am a burning fever. A dangerous liaison. I am moody and passionate.

I am yellow.

Yellow is the color of unhurried sweetness, honey so thick and golden it gladdens the tongue. I am a lazy summer day. A field of dandelions. I am the sound of a giggle. A ribbon of sunlight. Yellow is the color of smiling daisies, heads thrown back. I am honeysuckle growing with abandon. A face wide with joy. I am citrus sharp and sugary. A sun-bleached thought. I am happy.

I am green.

Green is the color of serenity. I am the clean scent of pine needles. Grass cool on the thighs late in the day. I am a closely shaven face. A sharp intake of breath. I am pungent, alive with things growing. Green is spiritual, the deep quiet of a forest. Dank earth and fresh breezes. I am mint and basil. A bird wheeling through the sky, wild and free. I am healing. Abundant.

I am black.

Black is the color of learning. The classroom blackboard speaking possibility as it chalks its lessons to our children. I am the color of celebration, newly pressed tuxedos and patent leather shoes rubbed to a sheen. Black is the spill of night. The color of the sky draping the moon. I am the weight of a brooding ocean. Finely-tuned piano keys. I am power and sophistication.

I am white.

White is fresh snowfall, pinpricks of fragile beauty in a dark night’s sky. I am mist rising like a ghost off a field. The whispering wind. I am air stiff with cold. Lace curtains billowing in the breeze. White is the buoyant taste of soft peaks of meringue. The feeling of freshly laundered cotton. I am a wedding vow. Bright eyes in moonlight. I am the sky exhaling its breath. I am winter. Stillness. Prayer.

I am blue.

Blue is the color of the soft swell of an ocean wave. A sad, sweet lullaby. I am fingernails of ice clinging to windows. The color of a sigh. Blue is the calm of a deep lake and the soaring freedom of an endless sky. I am an ocean of grief. The color of sleep. I am a haunting Gregorian chant. The desolate wail of a passing train. I am nostalgic.

I am lavender.

Lavender is the color of wispy flowers trembling in the breeze. Lilacs, tulips, and wisteria. I am a mountain at dusk. Feather air, delicious on the skin. Lavender is the heady scent of springtime. I am the dappled face of a book. The rustle and swish of taffeta. A puddle of silk. I am a dreamy smile and the soft swell of a breast. I am young and whimsical.

I am brown.

Brown is the damp and fertile soil that nurtures life. The rich, earthy smell of leather. I am nutty, wholesome, and honest. A steadfast friend. Brown is the color of humility. I am the delicious warmth of flannel sheets. The coo coo of a mourning dove. The aroma of a hearty beef stew. I am the rough and furrowed bark of an ancient tree. I am comfortable and welcoming.

I am orange.

Orange is the color of glee and exhilaration. The twang of a guitar. I am a bright cup of tea, a sprint across a field, and sunlight glancing off corn husks. I am the clattering of a duck. Orange is vibrant and juicy. Spicy like candied ginger. I am a spontaneous adventure. A leap of faith. Orange is the color of stripes and polka dots and clownish optimism. I am joyful.

I am silver.

Silver is the sound of tolling bells in the breeze. Steam rising from a pond. I am cold as a high-pitched whistle. I am a still space to cleanse the mind. Silver can be sleek and hard-edged, or fluid and graceful. I am the sweet tinkling of rain on a roof. The sting of an icy wind. Silver is a flock of birds swooping and fluttering like paper airplanes. I am mystical and soulful.

I am maroon.

Maroon is dusty and smoky, dry and reserved. I am rust and dried blood. A full-bodied wine. I am a faded painting. Maroon is elegant and refined. A finely woven rug, luxurious velvet drapes, and sumptuous satin sheets. I am the deep-voiced song of an organ. Overripe cherries and glistening pomegranates seeds. I am cultured and ambitious.

I am turquoise.

Turquoise is boisterous and shallow. A flirty bikini. Water bubbling in a brook. I am a parade of color like a strutting peacock. An embarrassed titter. I am a chirping sparrow on a spring morning. The tranquility of a tropical lagoon and the innocence of sunlight reflecting off a coral reef. Turquoise is refreshing and clear thinking. I am hopeful.

I am gold.

Gold is opulent and luminescent. I am sensuous Baroque music. The color of privilege. I am the rich warmth of a flickering fire and the amber glow of an aged whiskey. The color of morning light honeying the skin. I am a possessive glint in the eye. Summer wheat. Gold is a treasure chest of shiny medals and coins. I am self-confident and accomplished.

I am purple.

Purple is the color of juice-stained lips and grapes heavy on the vine. I am lush, elegant, and velvety. The sound of smooth, hypnotic jazz. Purple is the musky sweet scent of an exotic journey. I am the last gasp of sun sinking from sight. I am bold and brave. Unafraid to take a risk. Purple is sullen and dramatic. The color of a deep bruise. I am proud and boastful.

I am grey.

Grey is a cloud rising like smoke off a mountain. Gritty, urban, and industrial. I am the distant rumble of thunder. The silken nub of a pussy willow. Grey is the scratch of steel wool. The drab of stone, mustiness of ashes, and monotony of fog. I am the constant fall of chilly rain. The maturity and elegance that comes with age. I am subdued and understated.

I am pink.

Pink is playful. A twirling party dress. I am pearls and bubbly champagne. The sticky sweetness of cotton candy. I am a shy smile and the tender love for a child. The shushing of a baby. Pink is a soft cloud of scent. A seashell on an evening beach. I am a wistful expression. The dawn blooming gentle as a tea rose, flushed with its awakening. I am naïve, gentle, and kind.

I am copper.

Copper is the crunch of leaves on a crisp autumn day. The pungent scent of molasses. I am the taste of an olive, salty and bursting with briny abundance. Copper is warm and burnished, a glowing reflection. The comfort of buttered toast. I am a well-worn kettle. The deep mellow voice of a trombone. I am a bright penny. A nose of cinnamon and hot apple cider. I am welcoming and grounded.

I am a kaleidoscope of color. I blend and drip and splatter. I shyly peek out and rush forward like a tsunami. I listen to color’s silence and reverberate with its din. Color seeps into my moods, soothing and irritating. I feel color on my cheeks, the soles of my feet, and in my gut. I am a chameleon, color shifting and rearranging the portrait of my soul, the landscape of my being.

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