I had cataract surgery on December 21, 2007. Unbeknownst to me, my vision and everything that it was obscuring, had become increasingly more cloudy. My world view changed dramatically after the first of the two surgeries.
On December third, I had a cataract in my right eye removed, and a distance lens put in where the old one used to be. The very next morning I opened this, my supposedly weaker eye, and focused on the birch trees that stand tall, next to the woodshed. Not trusting what I saw, I reached for my glasses, which I’d set on the windowsill the night before. I looked through this, my old lens, and immediately drew my head back, for it hurt my eye to look through the now overly strong glasses lens. I had, over time, been watching as the branches of these trees first blurred, and then melted into an increasingly darker fog. But that morning, things were different. Letting my right eye wander, I followed it up to the topmost limbs of the closest tree. Although it was windy, even the seemingly most fragile of these limbs swayed back and forth, like old people do, when they hear familiar music. My eyes then moved to the smallest of branches, and stayed there, as I, for some time, watched them bounce up-and-down, like exuberant toddlers.
I have since this momentous day, engaged in a new, and much enjoyed ritual. I wake up, and for the first twenty minutes or so, look out at the now in focus landscape. I am at least temporarily afforded this luxury because I’m playing what Pete and I call the surgery card, meaning, that I’m expecting him and everyone else to do the things I usually do, like tend to the horses, because well, I’d just had surgery. No matter that this was simple procedure that took a mere eighteen minutes; I would milk it for all it was worth, meaning, lay around in bed and think about whatever crossed my mind.
Today, as I looked out at those trees, I remembered that it is the solstice. This, to me, is the most important day of the year, because it means that as of tomorrow, the days will grow longer. This year, it is even more momentous. Perhaps, because of my increasingly poor vision, I’d recently developed a craving for light that was only akin to my craving for chocolate. In November or thereabouts, I took to closing my left eye, and staring fixedly with my right eye at any and all holiday decorations, and taking great joy at what I could see—large blobs of multi-colored lights, some of which were surrounded by halos. This, all in an attempt to quell my growing fear that I’d someday be enveloped in darkness. ( A caveat: I did have fairly good distance vision in my left eye, but it too was starting to go. And if, say, my right eye could talk, it would tell my left eye what it was in for.)
Yes, I thought, as I continued to stare out the window, this is the solstice, and tonight we’ll have a party. We’ll have a bonfire. Ruth and Michael will bring wine that supposedly glows in the dark. And I will pass out glow sticks that Mark found in a box at the dump. In the absence of light, there will be light. There might also be some reminiscing. I’ve been told that one’s short-term memory is the first thing to go, but I don’t buy it. Long term memory is just as fleeting—we just do with it what we aren’t allowed to do with short term memory, which is take the more realistic fragments and embellish.
One can, for example, call recent events into question and be right. However, you can’t do this with long term memory. I recently decided that we all have what I call “mid-term memory,” a state in between long and short term memory. I reside in this place because it’s a fine meld of fact and fiction. I can provide details, and, if I choose, elaborate. Today, all I felt like doing is pulling up a few key events, and categorizing them. Having decided this, I reorganized what emerged in a higgledy piggeldy fashion. January: Spring Creek Farm get-together: Pete, Jim, Kirby, Aubrey and I rang in the New Year at Anne Corinne and Steve’s. February: Small gathering: Pete, Karen, Gene, Brandi, Sue and I ski joured with Tinni, and then drank hot chocolate. March: Road Trip: Ruth, Brandi, Sue and I traveled to Copper Center and “rescued” Thor and Sammy Legalus Cupcake Teeter III. April: One-on-one discussion: Kirby and I stood by my compost station and talked about the future of our neighborhood. May: Cinco de Mayo y siete party. June: Third annual solstice party. July: Road Trip: Brandi, Ruth, and I took young horses to a clinic in Fairbanks and after, remained on speaking terms. August: Kirby and Aubrey’s wedding. September: My birthday party. October: Neighborhood gathering: Tim and Jillian’s place. November: Thanksgiving at Jim’s, and at Tim and Jillian’s. My mid-memory reminiscences brought me full-circle, back here to where I am now, staring out the window at the birch trees. It’s December 21. I am glad both to have such good friends, and to be able to see. The future now looks brighter than ever.
Out of habit, I attempted to locate my glasses.
My left eye, in an attempt to do its job, focused in on the sill. As I
touched the frames, which were now missing one lens, I remembered that
I couldn’t wear these, my old pair. In a few weeks, I’ll again
be wearing glasses. My eyes have always worked independently of one another,
and nothing can be done about this. Right now, the left eye is doing the
close up work, and the right eye is doing the distance work. Glasses will,
in time, mediate, by enabling both eyes to do distance and close up work
– but independently of one another. Still, I will, even without
glasses, be able, upon awaking, to see the birch trees. Any way that you
look at it, the future looks bright.