White Canes and Windmills


White Canes and Windmills

     In his bedroom, Danny picked up his long white cane, his first. Its weight was easy to handle. Holding it up and straight out before him, he gave it a tentative sword-like, back-and-forth swish. This would be his first day using it at school and he couldn’t kid himself, he was nervous about how people would react to him.

     “Danny,” his mother called up to him from downstairs. “Come down. You need to start walking to school, son.”

     “Sixty seconds, Mom.” Lowering the cane, positioning it at center, Danny tapped it left to right in the two-point touch method he had been taught. “Wonder what the girls will think?” Danny looked inward and began to fantasize…

     It was a warm day. It was after school and he was walking home, using his new cane. At Maple and Main, the usual group of snooty girls was gathered, visiting. Danny knew they saw him coming; his stride was confident, shoulders back, head up, swinging in a steady rhythm, arching his cane, not staring down at shuffling feet like before. He was truckin’!

     DING-DING, the ice-cream truck drove by.

     “Oh, stop, stop!” Cried all the girls, but the truck kept on rolling down the street.

     “I’ll stop him!” In his dream, Danny leaps forward; cane flashing; he sprints down the walk; catches up with the truck; reaches out and taps the windshield with his cane tip; the truck stops.

     “Danny…” his mother calls again.

     “Yes Mom, just 40 seconds.” Feeling excited about what he might be able to use his cane for, Danny lifts it up, this time in the on-guard sword position. In his fantasy he is now on the neighborhood playground, walking with his cane and . . .

     “Hey Squint, where’s your magnifying glasses and what’s that wimpy stick?” The blunt end of a baseball bat poked into Danny’s stomach, punctuating the bully’s last word.

     Danny jumps back, whirls a three-sixty and with the tip of his cane flicks the bully’s baseball hat off his head.

     “Hey!” Taken by surprise, the bully retaliates, swinging the bat.

     The WHOOSH of the oncoming danger cues Danny to step back and the bat swings by harmlessly. Countering with his trusty cane, Danny steps forward and spanks the bully sharply on the seat of his pants.

     “OUCH! Grrr, I’ll get you for that!” Bat pulled back for another swing, the bully leaps forward.

     Danny jumps onto a lower rung of a set of climbing bars; the bully swings again; Danny sidesteps; RING the bat strikes the bars; the bat brakes; the bully yells with the pain of the splintering wood in his hands; Danny thrusts out, inserting the dirty tip of his cane into the bully’s open mouth.

     “Danny?” His mother’s voice brings him back. “Are you coming?”

     “Twenty seconds, Mom.” Danny’s pumped, his thoughts are racing, seeing great potential for him and his new cane; maybe even school-wide fame. . .

     The scene is the crowded school’s playground. He visualizes the towering structures of the wind turbines lining the edge of the school’s property. This was recess and the kids were doing what they’ve done since the windmills were built--they watched the whirling propellers, boasting on what they’d do if they could climb the towers.

     Walking out in front of all the gathered students, Danny snaps on a hook to the tip-end of his cane; he jumps skyward; he hooks a blade as it swings down; he is lifted up and rides around waving to the astonishment and admiration of all.

"Danny, you need to come down, now!"

"Yes, Mom." New cane in hand, Danny speeds downstairs, ready to tackle the day.


e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**21. I began in the seventies spreading the idea that we needed to see our
canes as something more than utilitarian travel items. Most of us
began our blindness challenge by hating the cane and although we do
come to embrace it's freedoms we still don't really, really, like the darn thing.
I have felt that we will know that we are changing what it means to be
blind when we appropriate the cane as not just a tool but a dress
item. Elegant canes? Canes with textured leather handles? I myself
can't imagine all the cool things we could do with our canes but I
think it's telling that we haven't. We haven't because, at a pretty
fundamental level, we still don't embrace them.
Some of this is historical. When we began to use canes, they were
primarily seen by the public as a gentleman's dress item. We wanted
to change that image and so avoided any ornateness. Now, we need to
move back toward a nice dress item with a utilitarian function.

Mike Bullis Baltimore Maryland NFBtalk Mailing List

**2. I like this provoker!

Danny seems to be an ordinary, young boy who has his first cane and is going to begin using it, on a regular basis. He's a little apprehensive about what the other kids will say. So, his imagination starts to work and he transforms himself and his cane into some kind of super-hero. With his trusty cane, he defends himself, and others, against all kinds of situations. His mother wants him to come and start walking to school, which is boring! He'd much rather be stopping ice-cream trucks or fighting duals with his trusty cane...an extension of himself. But, I'm sure he'll walk to school and deal with the kids, whatever they say about the cane. It's a tool, now, but will eventually become a natural part of him and he won't even think about it or care if other kids say something about it. But, for now, the imagination helps with something which might be a little awkward, at first.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, Pa

**3. Actually, when I was younger, many years ago, and had O&M training (then called travel training or something like that); I used to play with my cane when I wasn’t using it for that purpose. I would sometimes get mad at my brother, and it would become a weapon across his shins (I should still do that sometimes today). Other times it was used to get something from under the bed or a dresser. Other times it was something to bounce on the ground just waiting for a bus.

I think at that time I used my cane more for things other than travel.

Many of us kids in those days had really good facial vision, now called echo location. So we thought we didn’t need to use our white canes specifically for travel. Sometimes a group of us got together and had sword fights.

Well, today the white cane is much better explained to children, and they are better introduced to it at a younger age than I was. I was 13 when I learned cane travel, and little kids are shown the white cane at kindergarten or preschool and probably have a better respect for it although kids will be kids.

Ken Metz ACB-L listserv

**4. Hooray, I love this one. Here is my response story.

When I was three years old my dad made my first cane for me out of a painted wooden dowel and some kind of plastic handle. I instantly became He-Man, jumping on my trusty steed big wheel and charging after the big kids, following the whiz of their bikes, swinging my hefty wooden sword-cane and trying to smite them. In my downtime I was a drummer, banging on everything from ground to fences to baby sisters. It was a truly marvelous invention!
When I started Kindergarten I wasn't allowed to have a cane anymore. But I didn't care. Why should I have brought my sword to school?

Then in first grade I got a real cane. It was metal and skinny and smelled like an auto garage because it had a rubber handle. It wasn't as much fun to bang it on things because it was so light. But the teacher explained to me that I should put it diagonally in front of me so that when I walked, if something was in front of me at about waist level the cane would hit before I did. Oh, I thought, so it's a force field. But even at five years old I realized that that was a pretty weak force field. My hand still scratched on walls and fences, I still walked into tricycles and stepped on other kids and their backpacks. But at least I didn't seem to hit my head as much any more.

Then that summer I went to a camp for blind kids. Everybody had canes! I was walking with some older boy and noticed he was tapping his cane in a rhythm.
He told me that if I tapped my cane to the sides when I walked then things wouldn't get under it as much. Eureka! It was like discovering the lost city of Atlantis! My cane's not a weapon or a shield, it's a feeler and it actually finds things before I step on them. I don't know why the teacher hadn't told me that before. Maybe I just understood it better coming from an older kid that I thought was cool.

But that's not the end of my cane story. After I realized what the cane was really for, I decided I was never going to use sighted guide again. I didn't need to. So at six years old I refused any sighted guide and got in many fights with my teachers and parents. But I kept up with the kids in my neighborhood and other kids never wanted to have me holding their hands anyway. And I think it was better for my mobility in the long run.

Mike Sivill

**5. This young man has a much more positive attitude about his cane than I ever did. I feel sure that he's in for some harsh realities about how peers respond to something that is different, but hopefully there'll be at least a few who won't make a big deal about it.

I was introduced to cane use my first year of high school. I was going through all kinds of changes at the time and really just wanted to fit in. I tried to use the vision I had and to not let on to peers how limited my sight was. I used my cane during mobility lessons, but put it away as soon as I got back to school. I felt like it was something so weird that other teens couldn't relate to. I thought it would draw a wedge between me and those I wanted to be accepted by.

The same attitudes followed me to college. The difference was that I had to use my cane there. There were steps all over the place and it really wasn't safe for me to just roam around campus without the additional information my cane would provide. I did eventually leave it in my room a lot, but that was an unwise choice. I wanted to be seen as just another student, just another freshman girl interested in friends and dating and such. To me, the cane would make my first impression for me before I had the chance to say anything. I'd be noticed, but only as "that blind girl with the walking stick." My own assuming and awfulizing made life a lot more complicated. I talk about my "cane issues" in my memoir, "Carmella's Quest: Taking On College Sight Unseen," which describes my first year of college.

I've come a long way in terms of being comfortable with myself since then. I am more sure of who I am now and don't waste time or energy on people who can't get past initial reactions to the blindness thing.

I hope young Danny has positive experiences with his cane. Not having to work so hard to see things will certainly free up some energy so he can pursue other interests and move about more freely. This will hopefully help him socially, too. I'm glad he was introduced to the cane at a younger age. I think that helps a lot. Younger children generally seem more able to accept and adapt to change. I hope he has some solid role models in terms of well adjusted blind teens and adults. He's got a great spirit of adventure. I hope he finds ways to continue to use that, and his active imagination, as he pursues goals and relationship interests. I like his Mom, too. Good for her for sending him out the door to walk to school just like any other kid.

Carmella Broome, Ed.S., LPC, LMFT/I
Crossroads Counseling Center, Lexington SC
Author of Carmellas Quest: Taking On College Sight Unseen (Red Letter Press 2009)

**6. When I was a child I wore thick bifocals and my classmates called me, "Goo-goo eyes", and, "Bug eyed monster".
The Goo-goo eyes was in reference to the song about Barney Google with those Goo goo googly eyes.

At night, in the quiet of my room I became Super Boy. With my Super Boy super strength I saved the playfield from the feared Barnes Brothers, the neighborhood bullies. I won the championship for our school baseball team with a mighty swat that sent the ball toward the Moon. And as I began to notice that girls were different than boys, I was fawned over by Kay and Annette, the two most beautiful girls in all of Seattle.
But in the grey light of morning, I entered the world of, "what is". In this real world of what is I was still the odd kid, the shy boy, the last one to be picked for playground games and the one that the girls giggled at, not with.

My world was an, "in between" world. I saw well enough to "Pass" for a normally sighted kid, until it came down to stuff like seeing a flying baseball, reading lessons from the black board, and dropping things that were handed to me.

My parents had no understanding about what I could or could not see. Visually Impaired was not a term yet introduced into our language. Either you could see and thus you were sighted, or you could not see and you were blind. So I became known as the "clumsy stupid" kid.

Would I, living in this never never land between blind and sighted, have used a white cane? Not on your life. No way. Never. Over my dead body.
Never mind that the other children saw me as, "different". And never mind that I knew how they felt and that I could seem to do nothing about it. Even though the white travel cane was just becoming used by blind people, I knew that it meant that I was blind.
And I was not. Blind people begged on the street corners and looked like idiots. I knew that. I'd seen them. So how did I deal with my world? I became the class clown. The buffoon. And I got pretty good at it. In fact I gathered a few other kids around me and we began writing and performing silly skits during assembly and after school in the lunch room.

Like so many other kids living on the borderline, I found a way to survive. But it is one reason that I stay active in the field of work with the blind. No one should have to go it alone. No one should have to cry nights because they are being rejected and don't have the tools to fight back.

In this Thought Provoker, Danny was very fortunate to have had someone teach him and guide him to that place where he could see himself as a competent kid, proudly using his newly found independence. The white cane.
This is why each of us must bare the responsibility of reaching out to those around us. Even if all we know how to do is to offer comfort and a shoulder to lean on.

Carl Jarvis WA ACB-L listserv

**7. A very good story. So many of us fantasize but are not encouraged by our overprotective families to do our best. I was fifteen when I got my first white cane. I was beaten by a bully at home. I never tell people I have a half-brother because he was sent away when I was seven, served time in prison, was in a juvenile facility in his teens; basically, he is a no-good, and beat up on weaker people. He joined a gang in the neighborhood. Somehow, the day I got my white cane, he blew in and picked a fight with me about something; I cannot remember what. He told me I would never amount to anything. Next thing you know, he was beating me. The left side of my face was raw and painful. Mom was home but couldn't even stand up to him. She should have called the cops on him; that is what I would have done. This diminished me so much. My dad, who was not his father, told Mom if that no-good bum comes around again, I will shoot him. My father did not adopt him. He resented it that Mom had a child before she met him. This is what happens when someone is from the old European school. Anyway, that is why I tell people I am an only child. We had bullies in our schools, too, and even at the school for the Blind I was in for four years. I hated it. There was always a certain boy running after the other kids who cannot fight back, taunting them, pulling their hats off in cold weather, sniping at them verbally. I complained to the principal dozens of times, and nothing was done about that boy. Once, he took a heavy book and hit me on the head. I was minding my business getting ready to take a test and I was not feeling very well. I complained again and nothing was done about it. I really hated that place all the more and wanted out so bad. They let me out in 1976; I was glad to go; I did not bother taking the diploma and told them they can throw that in the trash; I was disappointed in the standard of curriculum there and did not want to be there in the first place. It took a long time and moving to California to finally realize my full potential 30 years ago. At least, there is no bully lying in wait for me here.

Marie, Sacramento, CA

**8. Oh boy is that poor kid into for a surprise.

Mark BurningHawk

**9. This was very interesting.

It is reminiscent of “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” which was a short story and perhaps a play from the 1950 era.

I am sure all of us at one time or another have fantasized about things we wish we could accomplish.

Cy Selfridge Centennial Colorado

**10. This is good. I believe anyone who has ever grown up blind has had similar fantasies whether we are male or female. We each want to be the hero in our own lives. We each want to be the star of our own movie. You captured this scenario very well. I hope that somehow Danny was able to be confident in the use of his cane at school even if he didn't get rid of the bully or bring the ice cream truck back so everyone could get their fill.

Chris Coulter: Edmonds, Washington

**11. Danny's dream sounds as close to super-hero status as he can get. Of course, his
stunts would not be advisable to carry out in real life; but perhaps in his heart, he thinks
this is the only way to deal with "bullies" and "snooty girls." Sorry, but the answer is No.
All Danny really needs to do is go about his business, properly and safely. He would win
the respect of TRUE friends.
Daydreaming will actually prevent Danny from accomplishing anything. If his mother
has to shout at him more than once to get ready for school, then it shows that his mind
is not on his work. School is difficult enough for the sighted; for the blind, it is even more
challenging. But for a blind daydreamer, it will be a colossal failure.
Some might argue, "What if Danny becomes an actor?" Maybe so. But even an actor
must study, and work, and have some measure of discipline.
Question: How much READING has Danny been doing? Has he finished his HOMEWORK?
Has he given any thought at all about preparing for life after school? If not, then he is
not ready to tackle LIFE. And if he doesn't know what to do with his life, then his day is
wasted. He is not ready. Believe me, I know. I've been there.

David Lafleche Rode Island

**12. I read the story of Danny and the white cane. It took me back to the first cane I received from the Commission for the blind.
I had been blind for about 2 weeks and no Idea of what, where or who to go to for any help. My wife took me down to the office and Elaine was the first person we found and she set down and after filling out some paper work, she found a cane that I was able to use. This was the first moment in two weeks that I felt a change come over me. I had been through a gambit of thoughts and cried till I had no more tears to shed. From the moment she handed the white cane to me ,I felt hope running in me once again. The smile filled my face till I had no more skin to smile with and a tear rolled down my face as she told me how to use this white stick. And more than once I was told that it's not a stick but a cane. I felt there and then that new things were about to happen and the load from my shoulders fell to the floor like sand. Once again I felt hope run through my mind, and my out look toward life turned from setting in front of a blank TV screen all day long to being able to find my way around once again.
I had to quit my job of 13 years because of the head aches and being out of work or in the hospital for days at a time. My friends I knew didn't know what to say or to do , so they stopped coming around. Still I had my white cane and classes to come to and learn how to live once again.
I say all that to say this. Because of the training I received from the people, some blind, and others sighted. I finally got the nerve to walk up and down my street just to get the feel of my cane to now travelling over 100 miles, two canes, four roller balls and a lot of dog treats walking the trail behind the sub division. It felt good to get out and hear people's voices again My cane, McCain, go places that I would have never in my wildest ideas thought I would find myself doing after becoming blind. I don't find myself being scared of doing the things that I love to do now, sure they take a little longer and yes, I have fallen on my face, had my cane caught under the sides of parked cars due to the fact I out walk my cane. But ,I get up ,brush myself off, wipe the grass from my shirt and listen to hear if any one saw me do that, and I go on having learned a very important lesson, DON'T OUT WALK YOUR CANE !!
It's been almost a year now, and I have taught myself and others have taught me to slow down and enjoy the walk. Thanks' to you and others, I am getting my act back together and living the life that was impossible a year ago.
Thanks too all of you

Alex Alexander Omaha, NE

**13. You are simply wasted in your current position. You really should be a screen writer for science fiction movies!!

Faith Sussman

**14. Let us as blind individuals, celebrate the imagination! Stories have involved fantasizing since people have roamed the earth. Even if a tale has been told millions of time, storytellers and writers are responsible for new approaches to an old tale.

Blind people cannot forget how "Like" all others we are. If we truly believe blindness is a simple characteristic, we must believe fantasizing is normal behavior. Human beings do it regularly!

Strolling down the red carpet in a designer gown with a Prince Charming on my arm at the Academy Awards is part of my dream. There are predictions I shall win, so I prepare a marvelous acceptance speech. I cry, just a little. My makeup is perfect; my gown is turquoise. My cane sparkles with silver beading. It is my magic wand!

Patricia Harmon

**15. this was fun to read and quite effective. when I was in elementary school, I had taunting girls to deal with because my eyes were quite deformed. it is difficult experiencing that.

I especially like how your hero (and he sure is a hero) sees the cane as a key to freedom and assertion.
however, I think getting hooked on the windmill might get dizzying and dangerous, but I'm never gonna discount a child's whimsy! lol

Jim Canaday M.A. Lawrence, KS

**16. There is a definite absurdity about this narrative that created a question in my mind. We are exposed that Danny picks up his long white cane, his first. This cane is his first, that doesn’t make sense. How did he manage to walk or even take a bus to school prier to his obtaining this cane? In fact without a mobility aid, how did he manage to navigate the environment in which he finds himself?

With me saying that let me focus upon this thought provoker.

Danny’s age isn’t told to us, nor is the grade level he is in. However I think there are subtle hints to both of these questions.

Girls are becoming important in his life. “Wonder what the girls will think?” I put him in elementary school, possibly fifth or sixth grade. I think that both boys and girls around these ages are beginning to notice, and discover the opposite sex.

I also believe Danny’s maturity level isn’t on par with his age. This can relate directly to his disability.

In Danny’s mine’s eye he is portraying himself as some type of super hero. Could he be doing this because he lacks confidence in himself? Possibly he is the only blind child in his class, perhaps in the school.

On the playground Danny confronts the “bully.” “Hey Squint, where’s your magnifying glasses and what’s that wimpy stick?” These are the words Danny here’s in his imagination. I think it is obvious Danny has heard similar comments like this before. Discernibly not about his cane, because this is his first one, we are told this at the beginning of this narrative. However because of the fact he doesn’t have a cane troubles me with my next observation.

When I lost my vision, the first adaptive tool I was given was a cane. How could you go to school to learn, or do anything unless you have mobility? Mobility is independence, and without it blindness wins.

I might be dissecting this thought provoker too much, however if I read something and there are too many inconsistencies, I can’t take the article seriously.

In any case Danny because of being blind is the “different one at school.” Is he accepted as just one of the other students? Or is he Danny, the boy who can’t see?

Children can be cruel with things they say. Somebody who wears different styles of clothes, perhaps do to there culture. Well not understanding something, right away other students see a difference, not comprehending why something is like the way it is, they make fun at what they don’t understand.

I perceive Danny as a loner. He is crying to be just one of the “regular” children. In his minds eye he is able to do all these remarkable feats. There is no doubt in my mind that Danny is crying, reaching out to be accepted by the other students. His over active imagination is his security blanket if you will. With his imagination not only is he being excepted, but admired by the others.

Peter Poliey published poet and author

**17. Thanks for this one. Fantasy or not one person can do many things with the cane. At least the child is no longer shy. He is confident and wants to do the right thing.

Yasmin Reyazuddin Rockville MD

**18. Ah, so, it's all in Danny's bedroom; and, in his head. Not in reality. The question, it seems to me, is this. Can Danny transfer it from his mind to his arm; so to speak? i think we sort of get the answer. Funny how , as a matter of human nature, we have to work ourselves up before doing anything, at least some of us do. Others of us, it seems, don't. At least, on the outside it seems that way.

Ray Forit NFBtalk Mailing List

**19. I think the method that Danny used to work through his fears, all the areas that were making him nervous was a very typical technique. Especially for a youth this would be acceptable measure. Yes, if Danny were to engage in this type of behavior all the time, then it would become something very different. So pats on the back for Danny, he was able to confidently run off to school.

I think the author should now show us what Danny’s real day was like!

Marsha Small MN

**20. With respect, to Mike Bullis’s response (**2) to this THOUGHT PROVOKER, although I agree with most of your analysis, I think your advocacy of "dress canes" and the like is utter nonsense. It's about in the same category as having cell phones that match one's purse! Sheesh!

Mike Freeman NFBtalk Mailing List

...FROM ME: I agree with Mike Bullis, specifically that the option to be able to customize your cane and dress it up would be a plus.

**21. That's a neat one. If only I’d started using the cane @ a younger age.....

Ben Misek NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**22. Thanks, This one's really cute. It gave me a smile.

Kerry Thompson Springfield, Mass NFB Writers' Division Mailing List

**23. I'd like to think I had that much confidence when I was a kid. Yes, I was nervous about what kids would think of me using my cane. I had problems with bullies, and yes, I used my cane in certain situations. I quickly Learned where a well-place strike would hurt a boy. I used it rarely, but when I did, the bullies stayed away. Still, I try to give my kids the internal confidence that they should not care what people think. The cane is an important tool, just like the computer or anything else we use.

Kasondra Payne

**24. Ok this sounds like a typical grade school boy , as I raised two sons , and they found many ways to play with my old canes , sword fighting , and turning the TV on and off as well as changing the channels. If you all remember the cartoon of the daydreaming kid as this was a WARNER BROTHER'S FILM. So I see nothing more than a silly little boy thinking of all the ways he could be an hero, class clown, or to defeat the class bully.

Terrie Arnold

**25. A great story, especially if you enjoy analyzing dreams and behaviors. Using a long white cane to stop an ice-cream truck speeding away exhibits an underlying expectation of special treatment from Society. Use of a long white cane to strike, dual, or inflict pain and embarrassment unto others, suggests inner feelings of helplessness and rage. A dream to reach up and ride windmills reveals a lack of reality and suggests a desperate need for attention. The windmill may symbolize a circular journey that leads to nowhere, while transferring power to others.

Long white canes are used by about 10% of the blind people today. Danny's dream will eventually end, and he will learn through life lessons that a long white cane is not a magic wand, it is a stick. If used properly, with specialized training, it will help Danny be more independent and safe. The specially coated paint helps alert sighted people to get out of the way, and grants Danny forgiveness when he bumps into others.

To add supplemental support to this story, a thought provoking question needs to be asked. Why don't more blind people use long white canes? It would seem reasonable to suggest that the low usage is likely attributable of the current packaging, marketing, total cost, and instructions provided.

Today, potential users are often turned off, or sickened by, any philosophy attached to the cane. Some blind people want other remedies, alternative treatments, and different doses, because one pill does not cure all. In some cases, it is a matter of safety, a question of whether or not to entrust blind instructors to train new users. New users may go back to walking alone after the mandatory sleep shades prescription expires. Some become addicted to sighted guide assistance due to ease and comfort. A few choose dogs to guide them. Unfortunately, too many are denied assistance because they are considered too old, or the needed funding for them is not a priority in the overall blind budget Others are excluded from help because they are unable or unwilling to continue to work after vision loss.

But, for little Danny, the long white cane fits and feels "just right". If only each blind person had little Danny's hopes, support, time to learn, and youthful enthusiasm? Today, less then 5 percent of the blind are children. Most people become blind as adults. These statistics suggest that the long white cane experts do not understand the reasons behind the low usage. Surely they would repackage, better market, and broaden the treatment to attract, and help, more people. Just maybe, the current experts in the field can only prescribe and render aid based on their childhood experiences. Maybe they just can't understand the needs of the many adults new to blindness, or they simply don't care enough to try.

Most adult problems are rooted back to the formative childhood years. To provoke, is to stir up old emotions, disturb the status quo, and inspire new ideas. Blindness is an inability to see the light, and an unwillingness to perceive, consider, or understand things in more than one way.


**26. I'll have to admit the first day that I took my cane to school, I felt fairly apprehensive. I did not start using a cane until my ninth grade year in high school, because up until then. I was always able to follow someone that I trusted, however in high school I started doing things and going places where I needed to be more independent. For the first few weeks I saw my cane is something that made me stand out and be different, not in a good way. I was greeted by my friends with varying levels of curiosity and concern, but surprisingly, after I answered their questions and explain to them why I was using my cane when I had not before , they were okay with it. Some even asked me to show them how to use it. I gradually got used to the idea that my cane was a tool that in my case was no different than a car for a sighted person. It made me a great deal more independent, and I also learned that there were advantages to using a cane. Like the boy in the thought provoker, I was able to finally able to walk with my head up and look at my surroundings instead of always having to watch where I'm walking. This is just an interesting observation, but I've often noticed that when I walk through crowds with my cane and pair of sunglasses on, the crowd seems to part (especially if you happen to go to Disney World).

Mytchiko Mckenzie

**27. This is much like Don KeHoTay and how he was off to slay the devils or problems that he had in life. Or, it is like someone reaching out to find that which will bring on the inner power that we all have and need to be inwardly strong and so the windmill represents Danny tapping into that source, finding his inner power. This is a great title and cute and meaningful short story. Thank you.

Betty Nice NY

**28. I remember when I first took my cane with me to school. Oh that was a scary day! Kids that hadn't noticed me before, now did! Some of the kids were into staring at me and some ran away, teasing me that I was going to hit them and they had to save themselves.Mostly what I remember is, how easier it was for me to walk faster and not have to look down at the ground to save myself! yes, a cane is a smart tool, it's hooked to your brain!

Bill Freebright

**29. In response to number 11:
As long as we keep on insisting that visual impairment creates an obstacle that is tedious and challenging, we will never move forward or change what it means to be blind. The tools and methods allow us to do the same things just in a different way. Perhaps those of us who refuse the techniques and training will find it difficult to function, but that is a choice.

Actually, children who play "pretend" are considered creative and bright. The fact that Danny can think outside of the box will help in life no matter what personal and professional decisions he makes. Many companys are now hiring people with their BFA's rather than the traditional BA's because those of us with creativity tend to think outside of the box. The thought is that a creative type can find solutions different than the traditional ones in order to advance a companys profits and products.

We spend too much time lamenting how society will view those of us who use alternative tools. Quite frankly, who cares? If we have the opportunity to accomplish our goals, do we neglect them because of what others think? This is a bit cliche, but Winston Churchill was told in high school that he would never amount to anything. Albert Einstein was diagnosed with learning disabilities. And yet we care what society says about using a cane? I think we need to get over it.

The reason the blind are still stuck in limbo is because we still discourage blind children. We continue to beat the idea into their head that they have limitations. So many blind people have accomplished so many things and I do not see what we can not do. Maybe drive, but as we know that goal is not far off either. If you believe you have limitations than you will. Instead of creating even more dependent blind people, maybe we should get on board and encourage the dreams and goals blind children imagine. Distinctions only create a gap between the blind and their goals.

Children like Danny should be allowed to discover their space, physically, emotionally and mentally. A child who can create and imagine is much more likely to succeed despite what others say. Why would we stifle this behavior? Too many kids today have forgotten how to imagine. The last thing we need to do is reprimand children who dare to be different. This includes using tools like a long white cane.

Bridgit Pollpeter Nebraska

**30. Great TP, and all the mid-point comments right on target. I can add nothing but a little humor: During the presidential primary campaign, you will recall that we were inundated with commercials, and just about everything we said or thought about was the campaign.

I do not use my cane around the house, but my wife and I decided to go for a walk one morning, and my cane was not in its usual place.

"Have you seen m'cane?" I asked my wife.

"No," she answered, "but Hillary dropped by."

Keep the TP's coming!

Jim Theall, Longmont, CO

**31. It sounds like this guy is a bit apprehensive about using a cane to get around. I think I might've been that way too when I first started using a cane, but I can't quite recall. I've been using one almost all my life now, and I honestly don't think much of it. What I mean is that it has become such an integral part of my life that I can't see myself without it. Pun intended! I remember one time back in eighth grade though, I did leave it at home and my mom was kind enough to bring it to me not long after home room had ended. Fortunately I didn't have to travel far at all for first period. As a matter of fact I just had to stay in that very room. But I felt pretty embarrassed about not having my cane with me at school for that very short period of time. Now, I just take it with me wherever I go, with a few exceptions. I don't use it in my apartment, because I know where everything is. When I'm downstairs in our community room, I just leave the cane outside by the door. Even though the community room in my apartment building is actually composed of three rooms, I know where everything is and can safely travel in there without my cane. I do use it at the office where I work even though it is not a very big office space, because things can and have blocked my path before. Not intentionally of course.

Jake IL

**32. Ornamental canage? Don't our canes keeping us safe speak for
themselves without ornaments such as leather handles? I mean c'mon.

Some very good pointss were raised in the TP, though I have to
disaggree. Why do we need to, in a sense dress up our canes? They keep
us from falling in manholes and the like, why can't their red tape
suffice as ornamentation? A leather hhandle? Camon I mean, why do we need to overstate the
validity of our canes?

Carly Mihalakis Berkeley, California

**33. When you wrote this story, did you haveDon Quixote "tilting at windmills" in mind when you had Danny swirling around on the blades of the windmill? Only Betty Nice, (response 25) noticed the Quixote connection. When I was at the University of Chicago, one of my colleagues had a print of a picture of Don Quixote on a horse and Sancho Panza on a donkey. Emi was about two years old at the time and, when she asked what it was, we said it was Don Quixote. Thereafter, she always referred to it as, "Donkey Horsey." The wisdom of small children!

James S. Nyman Lincoln Nebraska