'Ernie, how about taking a ride on the four-wheeler?” my nephew, Loren, asked me that warm summer day.
“Sounds great to me,” I answered.
Within minutes Loren had the two four-wheelers out and was riding one of them; my daughter and a couple of young friends were on the other one.
Returning to where I stood, Loren said, “Okay, Ernie, here it is.”
Listening to the exclamations I heard, I knew most of my family didn’t agree, but their remarks made me want to ride the four-wheeler all the more.
Loren had the four-wheeler aimed into the field when I climbed on. After some instructions on the workings of the monster, I took off.
I will admit that at first I was slow, hardly allowing the vehicle to move; but soon I was lost in a new, exciting world.
I drove round and round in the pasture, going farther as I grew braver.
I had often been out in this field before my eyesight faded away, and in my mind I could still see the large pasture with trees on the far side, and to the left a sloping hill made for climbing.
When we started the four-wheelers there had been a half-dozen white-tailed deer on the far side of the field, but they fled after taking one look at me on that machine.
Loren said he would whistle if I was headed into trouble. Shortly I heard his shrill whistle, and I stopped the four-wheeler.
“Just checking to make sure you could hear me,” Loren said. “Now you can try the hill.”
Up the hill I went, going right over scattered tree limbs left from wood-gathering earlier. Turning the monster around, I headed back down the hill and increased the speed.
Hearing another shrill whistle, I stopped, only to have Loren jump on the back of the machine. Back up the hill I went. “Turn left,” I heard Loren say, but no matter how I tried to go left, we kept going straight ahead.
“Turn left,” Loren said again.
“I am turning left, but the front wheels are off the ground,” I replied.
Slowing the four-wheeler to a crawl, I felt the front wheels lightly touch the surface of the pasture, but the slightest pressure on the throttle would bring those wheels back up. Slowly, I managed to make the turn and we headed back down the hill.
I stopped the machine, and this time Loren jumped on the hood in front of me. “Let's go,” he said.
“Hey, I can't see a thing ahead now – I can't see through you,” I replied, laughing. But at least Loren held the front of the machine down on all four wheels. I drove up the hill again, then back to near the gate. I stopped, allowing Loren to jump off.
It's strange how going around in circles can confuse a person if he can't see or is wearing a blindfold.
Sometimes I would turn what I thought was a complete circle and head out, thinking I was headed for the hill, only to find I was really going in the opposite direction. Fortunately, the river was on the other side of the house and yard, so at least I was safe.
It was also strange how the land seemed to change. Nothing appeared to stay still, and people, trees and even the hill kept moving out of place.
I listened to hear the others talking, and found them on the wrong side of the pasture; somehow they had crossed the pasture and entered the woods. Well, not really — I just had to turn myself around.
Several times I would listen to find the other four-wheeler and then head right toward it, only to hear its riders give a shrill shriek as they sped off. Of course, I couldn't catch them, but I had fun making them think I might really try.
But all good things have to come to an end. At last everything stopped moving as I drove the machine out of the pasture, stopping near where the others stood.
I am thinking of another ride this summer. Why should being blind stop me? Life is for living, whether blind or fully sighted. Want to take a ride with me?