“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had heard a lot about the Woodford Folk Festival – that it was an amazing event and that one should experience this music extravaganza at least once in one’s lifetime.
I was thrilled when Harry booked for us to go in December 2014.
“It might be a bit of a challenge,” he said, “Getting around with one hundred thousand people and your white cane?”
So off we went by plane to Queensland, to make our way in the heat of summer, in-land to the Glass House Mountains in north-east of Australia in high spirits, with adventure in our hearts and with plenty of sun-screen on our skin.
There we were, for one whole week with thousands upon thousands of other music lovers, crazy folk like us all eager to welcome in the New Year listening to dozens of international and local music acts. The music was world class but the heat? It was so unbearably hot, I thought I was dying! Even at 7a.m, the tropical heat was so uncomfortable, when I tried to apply face cream, the moisturizer was swimming around on my face!
Under the Cover of Night
The real challenge came in the evenings when we got caught up in the throng of music lovers all plodding along the dusty tracks like cattle as we moved on to the next concert. Very few people could see my white cane in the dark and even though Harry was doing his best as my body guard to protect our space, we got fed up with being bumped and knocked around.
“There has to be a better way.” He said in frustration. “I got it!” and the next thing I knew, we had made our way to a market stall selling a myriad of LED lights. Within ten minutes, Harry had strapped a string of these small bright lights to the length of my cane that made it light up like a Christmas tree – it was brilliant!
Harry was so proud of his new invention as folk moved around us rather than on top of us, as we steamed ahead with renewed confidence. The added bonus was that if we were seperated, I could raise it in the air and he’d be able to see it glowing in the dark above the crowd.
For daytime wanderings, I had packed something that I knew would make our lives easier to find our tent among nine hundred other identical tents – a fake bouquet of flowers, to plant at the front of our canvas tent. It worked so well, it was amazing. My artificial flowers even helped sighted people to find their way to their hot canvas tents too, by taking a left turn by my patch of daisies in the place we were camping called Tent city a thousand ideantical army tents, we fondly renamed, in-tensity!
Being at Woodfordia was truly a test of endurance, persistence and innovative living.
We are back home in Melbourne and Harry has tinkered once more with my white cane – you’re never going to believe what he’s done…
Not only can we fit LED lights to my cane, Harry has installed my very own mini-bike bell to the handle where I can send out a warning ring-a-ling when caught up in heavy human traffic – the way the bell clears a path through a busy city street or overcrowded venue has never been so easy!
You should see the look on people’s faces when they hear a bicycle bell on a crowded escalator. Pure Panic!!
First published on VisionAware (AFB)
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Copyright © Maribel Steel 2015
Photographs Copyright © Harry Williamson 2015