Back in the U.S.S.R.

Nira earned her wings today on American Airlines. We flew from LaGuardia to Chicago and then onward to Iowa. She took it all in stride and worked between flights as if she’s been in O’Hare airport a thousand times before.

Now that we’re back in Iowa City we find of course that the temperature (with wind chill) is 20 below zero. Compared to this, Yorktown Heights New York is almost Montego Bay.

Yah Mon! It’s colder than Sibelius’s head back here in the Hawkeye state.

Now that Nira has left the hallowed halls of Guiding Eyes I know that this will be a year of "firsts" for her: first crowded airplane flight; first grumpy ticket agent and cluster of irate passengers; first opportunity to take a whiz in perma frost; first semester watching her immoderately eccentric human partner teach his classes at the university; and then, henceforward, we can scarcely imagine all the firsts. There will be for Nira many new friends and places over the coming years.

I am a better traveler in the company of my guide dog. Guiding Eyes has given me three intrepid guides and together we have visited 43 of the U.S. states and four foreign countries.

But it’s not the travel that’s so uplifting: it’s the expectation and imagination that relates to traveling. Together Nira and I will travel far and safely and with the joy of discovery.

And just think! Guiding Eyes does this for everybody who is legally blind and wants a superb canine traveling companion. And because the average blind person can’t easily afford a forty five thousand dollar guide dog, they do this remarkable work free of charge.

So there are a lot of people to thank.


The Spanish poet Unamuno once wrote that "we die of cold and not of darkness"–which I take to mean that human indifference is much worse than any near gloom.

But metaphorical assertion aside, it’s really cold in Iowa and if you are coming this way I’d suggest you pack your long johns.


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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