Appreciation of five great gifts

Today I am filled with thanks for so many things it would seem impossible to list them all.

Most of all, though, I am thankful that I was born with all my five senses intact.

What pleasure fills us when we see the western sky turn red as that great orange orb sinks behind the familiar hills; bend to smell the first bloom of summer roses; hear the birdsong float down from the limbs of the big maple in the front yard; feel the touch of a grandchild’s face on ours; taste butter and honey on a hot English muffin.

And to be able to speak words of encouragement where they are most needed.

Oh yes, and to feel the unexpected strike of a smallmouth as we reel a crankbait across a gravel point; see him split the surface with a mighty leap as he fights to regain his freedom; enjoy the bend of the rod in the length of the battle; see the morning sun glint off his sides as we hold him high by the lower lip.

And what about that welcome sound of the coffeepot gurgling and the aroma of fresh coffee filling the kitchen as we open the morning newspaper.

I remember well the taste of a shore lunch of walleye or perch fried to a golden brown in an iron skillet over a wood fire.

And we haven’t mentioned the sound of music – a choir singing “Amazing Grace,” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” or “How Great Thou Art.”

Do we sometimes take these blessings for granted? I’m afraid so.


When Helen Keller (1880-1968) was just a baby a serious illness struck, leaving her devoid of both hearing and sight. She lived the rest of her days in darkness and silence.

One of the most inspiring stories the world has ever heard involved how she – through the patience and courage of her great teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy – learned to talk on her fingers, even to speak, and eventually to write.

She graduated from Radcliffe College, the first deaf blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, and went on to write stories (12 books published) that aroused us all to the realization that no handicap is too great to overcome.

In her essay, “Three Days to See,” she told of how she was visited by a very good friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods.

“I asked her what she had observed. ‘Nothing in particular,’ she replied. I might have been incredulous had I not been accustomed to such responses, for long ago I became convinced that the seeing see little.”

On such a walk, she said, “I, who cannot see, would see hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch – passing my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough, shaggy bark of a pine. I touch the branches of a tree hopefully in search of a bud, the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter’s sleep, (or) feel the delightful, velvety texture of a flower, and discover … the miracle of Nature revealed to me.”

On the first day, she wrote, she would “… like to gaze long upon the face of (Mrs. Macy)… who came to me when I was a child and opened the outer world to me.”

Not just to touch that face with her fingers, but to actually see the strength, patience, tenderness and compassion in her eyes.

On the second day she would most like to arise with the dawn and see “the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day,” to see “the magnificent panorama of light with which the sun awakens the sleeping earth.”

Then she would like to see the places where the key unlocks the greatest treasures in the shortest of time: the New York Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On the third day she would hurry to the top of the Empire State Building and see far below the towers of New York City, a “city that seems to have stepped from the pages of a fairy story.”

Then she would go down to stand on a busy corner to study the faces of the people. She said she would be happy with their smiles, proud of their serious determination, and compassionate with their suffering.

Most of us have not recalled the story of Helen Keller since our school days.

It would benefit us all, I think, to revisit her.

It would awaken us to an appreciation of those blessings we take so much for granted.

“My senses five are five great Cups

Wherefrom I drink delight!

For them to God a grace I sing

At morning and at night.

For five fair loving-cups are they

That fill me with delight.”

— Rachel Annand Taylor (1876-1960)

.neFileBlock {
margin-bottom: 20px;
.neFileBlock p {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
.neFileBlock .neFile {
border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
padding-bottom: 5px;
padding-top: 10px;
.neFileBlock .neCaption {
font-size: 85%;

G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]