Learning to See: Happy Are the Painters

When a Christmas Eve fire left Tamia with little more than the clothes on her back, she mourned the loss of her camera and photos. But out of this loss came something of enduring value: She learned to see again. And so can you.
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by Tamia Nelson | March 23, 2018
Originally published in very different form on June 6, 2000

Nearly forty years ago, Farwell and I made our first home together in what had once been the servants’ quarters of an imposing Victorian manse. Then, on Christmas Eve, the century-old structure burned to the ground. As luck would have it, we were away from home at the time, visiting family, but we didn’t escape unscathed. Except for an aging Volkswagen Beetle and the clothes on our backs, the flames consumed everything we owned.

This blow fell hard on us. We had no insurance, for one thing. Still, although we missed our tent, our sleeping bags, our climbing gear, and our books, the losses I felt most keenly were my treasured Nikon camera and my collection of photographic slides and prints, a collection which had filled dozens of steel boxes. From the time I was given my first camera at the age of 10, I’d wanted to be a professional photographer. But on that terrible Christmas Day, as Farwell and I raked through the smoldering rubble for hours, salvaging only a single, discolored Sierra Club cup for our trouble, I realized just how distant that dream had now become. … Continue reading this article…