Dressed in a pink T-shirt, hair in pigtails and looking
cool in bright-colored sunglasses with flowers, Miel McGrath was just like all the other kids enjoying the opening Sunday of Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch south of Napa.
Except Miel, 3, is sight-impaired. Unlike the other kids, she relies on touch, sound and her cane to fully experience the play day.
A casual observer would not know Miel was blind. When posing for a family photo, her mother, Amy Burkhart of Napa, would put her hand under Miel's chin and gently turn her head toward the
direction of the camera -- nothing very overt that would signal anything unusual.
Similarly, patch playtimes are matter-of-fact -- except perhaps a little altered for Miel's situation.
Case in point: At the bottom of the giant haystack at Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch,
there is a tunnel that the other kids
were running right through.
Miel went through too -- but walking, with her mom at her side, not holding her hand. Instead, Miel reached up and felt her way along the the wall of hay as she walked along the straw-covered ground.
Like the other kids, the family also climbed to the top of the giant haystack with Miel
using her cane and all her might to climb up the bales of hay along
with her sister, Amelie, 10.
Then Amy and Miel slid down a large tube
from the top of the haystack back to the bottom together. When asked by
her mother if she wanted to do it again, Miel did not respond. Perhaps a tube slide doesn't feel that good to all the senses.
sat on the tractor and played with the steering wheel and knobs. Her
mother would identify objects by placing her hand on items and saying the name -- such as "light" -- of an object while the girl touched it.
Like Miel, we can all enjoy the arrival of fall and the senses-filled pumpkin patches of life.