I find being colorblind at times annoying, but rarely does my disability seriously affect my functioning. I learned early in life that certain careers were closed to me — electrician, pilot, interior designer — but colorblindness largely makes itself known in mismatched clothing and the inability to see numbers among the dots.
But, one time I do miss the ability to discern colors better is walking among nature. I often cannot see certain creatures because they blend too well into the background. And I often cannot determine species of birds or insects because their color scheme eludes me. I imagine, however, that I compensate by perhaps seeing motion better than most, or that I can more frequently detect specific shapes in the mosaic of life (I have an uncanny eye for spotting coins in the dirt). I also have a deep fondness for brilliant colors, the bright yellows, oranges, and purples that stand out so magnificently among the green leaves.
Today, I wandered down along the railroad tracks, unaware that I was about to be ambushed by all manner of life. For one, I am not alone in noticing the abundant varieties of butterflies in the area this year. In just 30 minutes or so, I spied a Red-Spotted Purple, Silver-Bordered Fritillary, a Mourning Cloak, a Red Admiral and the ever-present Woollybear Moths, often dancing in pairs among the wild daisies.
As I took my usual place on the switchman’s shed platform, I saw an old friend – a big Mallard – standing guard at his usual post at the end of the sand spit in the middle of the river. Suddenly, a goose or heron of some kind swooped over to the island from the other side of the river and I quickly lost it in the foliage.
Motion in my lower field of vision brought a young groundhog to my attention, just 20 feet or so below the platform. He kept eying me suspiciously and I tried not to move and startle him. Of course, behind it all was the constant droning of crickets and the deafening buzzing of male cicadas looking for a mate.
As I continued my journey along the tracks, a brilliant goldfinch darted by. I felt something on my arm. Looking down, I examined a bright red Ladybug with no spots. Now, depending on what culture I choose to acknowledge, that means that I will have no children (sorry Ashley and Tyler!), will soon get a pair of gloves, whatever ailment I have flew away with it (wouldn’t that be nice), my crops will be good, or that fair weather is ahead.
Who knows what other critters busily went about their business as I walked along the tracks? Some I will always have difficulty seeing. Some may forever elude my observation, no matter how diligently I hone my visual skills. But, many of them lie within my ability to perceive them if I will only take the time to look.