About 30 years ago my next door neighbor, Arvel, and I spent a lot of time together in the outdoors. We cut firewood for our fireplaces, we fished the local reservoirs, and we hunted deer in the mountains. Through it all we had a great time.
Old Arv had retired with a disability pension from PG&E. He had been working on one of the huge steel high voltage transmission towers when he somehow fell and broke his back. Arv lost the use of his legs for the rest of his life. Being the ornery cuss that he was, Arv refused to let his disability stop his enjoyment of the outdoors.
When we were wood cutting Arv would use his crutches and made his way out into the orchards and forests just like I did. We fired up our chain saws and cut wood side by side. The same held true when fishing, we’d troll at New Melones and other foothill reservoirs in search of bass and trout. When deer season rolled around, we’d head up into the high Sierra and head out into the woods with our rifles. When Arv got his deer, he would tie a rope around it’s antlers and drag it out of the woods on his crutches. Arv refused to let his handicap limit his enjoyment of the outdoors.
I suspect dealing with a handicap is like anything else, your experience is molded by your attitude. If you believe that your handicap prevents you from engaging in outdoor activities, then you’re right. On the other hand, if you refuse to accept defeat then you can find ways to overcome your disability. I’ve heard it said that in some fashion we’re all handicapped. It’s how we deal with it that matters.
When I was 4 years old I was involved in a freak accident that smashed my right hand I had one finger amputated and two other smashed and deformed. Maybe because I was so young when the accident occurred, is why I never considered myself to be handicapped. I learned to write, play baseball, shoot a gun, and cast a fishing rod just like everyone else. It wasn’t until I showed up for my draft board physical that I learned I was handicapped. I’ll be darned if a couple missing fingers didn’t keep me out of Vietnam!
Over the years I have seen large numbers of folks with handicaps enjoying the outdoors. In some cases there are special facilities for handicapped access including fishing piers, in other instances there is special equipment designed to help handicap folks enjoy the outdoors. Recently I discovered an ATV that accommodates wheelchair passengers. The Ripchair 3.0 is a tracked vehicle that can go almost anywhere. It is manufactured by Howe & Howe of Waterboro, Maine and every chair is custom built for the individual user. You can use them to hunt, fish, bird watch or go any place in the outdoors you wish. Now, if you have a serious handicap you can continue to enjoy the outdoors.
You’re only as handicapped as you think you are!
Until Next Week,