I recall many incidents of the summer of 1887 that followed my soul's sudden awakening. I didnothing but explore with my hands and learn the name of every object that I touched; andthe more I handled things and learned their names and uses, the more joyous and confidentgrew my sense of kinship with the rest of the world.
When the time of daisies and buttercups came Miss Sullivan took me by the hand across thefields, where men were preparing the earth for the seed, to the banks of the Tennessee River,and there, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the beneficence of nature. Ilearned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant tothe sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land,how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. As myknowledge of things grew I felt more and more the delight of the world I was in. Long before Ilearned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taughtme to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves anddimples of my baby sister's hand. She linked my earliest thoughts with nature, and made mefeel that "birds and flowers and I were happy peers."
But about this time I had an experience which taught me that nature is not always kind. oneday my teacher and I were returning from a long ramble. The morning had been fine, but itwas growing warm and sultry when at last we turned our faces homeward. Two or three timeswe stopped to rest under a tree by the wayside. Our last halt was under a wild cherry tree ashort distance from the house. The shade was grateful, and the tree was so easy to climb thatwith my teacher's assistance I was able to scramble to a seat in the branches. It was so cool upin the tree that Miss Sullivan proposed that we have our luncheon there. I promised to keep stillwhile she went to the house to fetch it.
Suddenly a change passed over the tree. All the sun's warmth left the air. I knew the sky wasblack, because all the heat, which meant light to me, had died out of the atmosphere. A strangeodour came up from the earth. I knew it, it was the odour that always precedes a thunderstorm,and a nameless fear clutched at my heart. I felt absolutely alone, cut off from my friends andthe firm earth. The immense, the unknown, enfolded me. I remained still and expectant; achilling terror crept over me. I longed for my teacher's return; but above all things I wanted toget down from that tree.