Monday, July 30, 2012

Perception and Understanding: Seeing the Beauty

Perception and Understanding: Seeing the Beauty

Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For me, sometimes seeing the obvious isn’t always so clear. A friend recently shared a story about seeing the berries on a Sassafras tree for the first time after several years of mowing around the tree and never knowing that it produced fruit. Of course the gardener in me immediately satisfied my yearning for more information on the Sassafras tree. I very quickly googled the tree and learned that because this Sassafras tree had berries it was a female tree. There are separate male Sassafras trees. The berries are edible by birds, and the bark is considered toxic by the FDA. Sassafras tea is still made today and utilized for medicinal purposes although the oil is banned by the FDA because when consumed in large quantities it is a carcinogenic. (Interesting information, yet somewhat confusing, to say the least.)

The more we look at something sometimes, the more we usually see. I once told a Contractor that, “the more I looked at my house, the more I realized what needed to be fixed.” He jokingly told me to stop looking at it. Sometimes when we step back and open our eyes we can see things more clearly and we can see things the way they really are. Sometimes, we need to zoom in on the details. Kind of the same way we should look at ourselves, our friends and our families.

I like to use my photos in my blog and on facebook. It is always my worry that I’m going to run out of flowers to take pictures of. Maybe eventually, but for now I realize that every bud, flower and every plant are somewhat different. Although I’ve been married to a photographer for a number of years, I have never taken a lot of pictures until recently, mostly because I feel as if I’m still learning how to use my digital camera. I once took a photography class when I had a 35mm Minolta. My pictures allow me to take a look at my plants from an even closer perspective. Digital means that I can take a lot of pictures without wasting a lot of film.

I discovered ‘macro’ on my camera by accident. Once while out photographing the bees on my purple Echinacea, I discovered my camera could really pick up the great detail of the bee’s wings. My husband has taught me the value of photographing during the right natural lighting and I’m still playing with composition. By capturing the detail of every flower or bud up close, I can understand how a particular plant grows. The flowers of an okra plant or of a passion vine are truly remarkable. To actually witness the growth of a fruit from the flower astonishes me.

The beauty is amazing to me. By taking my pictures up close my friends who are visually impaired can enjoy them too. That is very important to me. I can also see the flowers and plants with greater detail myself. The intricacies of each are amazing. My followers on facebook are equally inspiring. Many have their own story, heartache, death of a loved one, physical or psychological disability or some other hardship that has made them value gardening more and more. Many simply enjoy gardening as much as, if not more than, I do.

Whenever I travel, I find that I’m drawn to the flora of wherever I go. When I’m on the computer, I really enjoy looking at what others can grow. I sometimes expect others to be as intrigued as I am, and to understand why I’m enjoying this journey with Access to the Garden as much as I am. Last week’s blog about tomatoes was a lot of fun for me. I sincerely enjoyed everyone’s input. Not every blog will be fun, because everyday isn’t necessarily fun especially when you are dealing with accessibility and advocacy. I try to make the most of it sometimes, but that’s life. I’m sometimes frustrated, because I expect everyone to really see the flowers when they come to my door, but that doesn’t always happen. My own family would rather that I just enjoy the flowers, but to me the gardening is kind of a reward for the advocacy and other things that I have had to deal with in my life.

Whenever I deal with people, I try to understand issues from their perspective too. I can somewhat understand apprehension, especially if I’m the one to tell a professional that a situation was needlessly dangerous for me or offensive. When I refer to a situation as potentially dangerous “for me” I’m really referring to the majority of people with disabilities. Understandably, not all people with disabilities can agree with each other. Not to get into the political correctness of anything, but some people with disabilities are indeed handicapped by their own attitudes and complacency. Agreeably, we’re not all always playing on an even ball field, there will always be a 2% slope. It’s our own perceptions of ourselves that will be how we’re perceived by others.

Trying to live life and not be too sensitive sometimes can be really tough. There is nothing more that I want than for others to understand my perspective, generally derived by facts, and to do the right thing because it is simply the right thing to do. Whether it is access, attitudes or anything else you are willing to commit to.

Learning recently that the passion flower produced the passion fruit, that the pawpaw fruit didn’t grow in the coastal areas of South Carolina, that water alone would not wash off pesticides from fruits and vegetables because farmers wouldn’t use them if it did, and learning that I can’t always expect people to treat me with the same level of respect as I would extend to them have been really good lessons these last couple weeks. Also facing the realization that several friends and family who have never LIKED a single flower picture on facebook isn’t really significant grounds for unfriending them either, although sometimes it has been very tempting.

Sometimes we cannot expect everyone to see the flowers or the importance of what we are trying to convey. As long as we feel within ourselves that we are doing something very worthwhile, that is what is important. However others choose to learn is truly up to them. Rewards do come daily and even sometimes rather surprisingly from an Editor who says thank you in return for your compliment of a nicely written article using people first language.

Links to how to wash your fruits and vegetables:

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100's of photos from Access to the Garden are on Facebook! Please like my page, and join in the conversations! Brenda B. Parent, Access to the Garden