|Helen Keller and the Big Storm
By Patricia Lakin
What lesson does Helen learn?
Little Helen Keller loved smelling roses and honeysuckle. They grew all around her Alabama home. Bust most of all, Helen loved playing pranks. When she was six, she had done her best prank yet! Mamma had walked into the kitchen pantry. Quickly, Helen felt for the key. Click!
Helen locked Mama inside. Helen didn’t always have the chance to take charge like that. Mamma and Papa tried hard to understand her. But many times no one knew what she wanted.
Helen could get so angry, she would kick and hit and fall into a heap. Afterward, she ran outside. She threw herself onto the cool, comforting grass. The flowers, trees, grass, warm sun, and gentle wind always made Helen feel better.
Helen was never punished for her pranks and tantrums. Mr. and Mrs. Keller thought Helen had been punished enough. Their daughter could not hear, or see, or talk. But that pantry prank forever changed Helen’s life. The Kellers now knew that Helen needed more than they could give her. She needed special lessons from a special teacher.
Helen’s teacher was Annie Sullivan. She came to live with the Kellers. Helen was not ready to trust this stranger. And she was not ready to give up her pranks. She locked Annie inside her room. And this time Helen hid the Key! That prank made Annie see just how clever Helen was. Not matter what Helen did, Annie did not give up!
Slowly, day by day, she worked with Helen. Annie taught Helen by pressing her fingers into Helen’s hand. Annie’s fingers spelled out the names for the things Helen loved. Grass. Flowers. Leaves. Trees. Bugs. Butterflies. Sun. Wind. Rain. In a short time, Helen loved doing her lessons more than doing her pranks.
Soon, the out-of-doors became Helen’s classroom. One summer day, Helen and Annie took a long walk. On their way home, the air grew hot and sticky. Helen and Annie stopped to rest under a wild cherry tree. The tree blocked them form the burning hot sun. Its leaves fanned them with a gently, cooling breeze.
Helen felt its strong, low branches. They were just right for climbing. Annie and Helen decided to do just that! Sitting high in the tree, they had a resting place to stay cool. It was a perfect spot for a picnic!
Annie headed for the house to make lunch. She made Helen promise not to move an inch. Helen wouldn’t think of moving. She loved sitting high up in that tree! Helen breathed in the wonderful scent of the cherry tree. She stroked its rough bark and its smooth green leaves. She let the cooling breeze blanket her.
But in seconds, Helen’s world turned upside down. The sun disappeared. Helen’s face was slapped with a cold, sharp wind.
The scent of flowers was gone. Her nose was filled with another smell. This one was not sweet. It came up from the deep, dark earth. It told Helen that a storm was near. Helen began to feel the shaking of the leaves. Twigs rained down, scratching her face, arms, and legs.
Tree limbs swayed. The wind whipped through the branches. The wind whipped around Helen. The wind tried to rip Helen right out of that tree. Helen grabbed onto the shaking branch. She clung to it with all of her might. Helen sat frozen.
She was trapped. She could not see. She could not call for help. She could not hear if help was on the way. Helen had never felt so alone or so scared. She couldn’t understand how the gentle things she loved could turn against her.
Suddenly, out of the cold, whipping wind, Helen felt a hand. It was a strong, warm hand. It belonged to Annie Sullivan. Annie grabbed hold of Helen. Helen let go of the branch. She clung to Annie. She let Annie guide her down and out of that tree.
Helen learned a great deal that day. She had felt the power of Nature. It could turn from gently to fierce in seconds. Helen also learned about the power of friendship. Annie Sullivan would always be there for Helen Keller.
Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan were friends all of their lives. Helen went on to become a talented writer who always worked to help others.