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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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As I gazed out my Upstate NY living room window at the flaky snow and the freshly plowed 300-yard driveway, I knew I had made the most important decision of my life.

It had been a strenuous, emotional, dreadful – but in the end, rewarding – morning. The three of us had awakened to well over a foot of light, fluffy snow blanketing our three acres of yard, house, barn, and horse pasture. It was the first big snow since Roger had died last spring, and we had taken over all his duties of managing our farmette.

I had my career as a teacher at the high school. Now the title of family overseer had been added to the resume. Ten-year-old Lennie was the farmer in the family, so she took care of her horse, the chickens, and the geese. Eleven-year-old Jason had assumed his father’s landscaping and outdoor upkeeping duties.

This day those duties started just after dawn with plowing the driveway. Plowing would be a first for Jason, but he was sure he was up to the task. He had helped his father many times. Starting up the two-wheel-drive 1968 Chevy standard shift C10, a half-ton pickup with the snowplow was the first step in the process.

This was after putting on his snowmobile suit, trudging out to the barn through all the snow to get to the truck, and then climbing up into the truck as only an 11-year-old could do. Now he was ready to start the job. One small problem, besides the bulkiness of his winter clothing, was the length of Jason’s legs as he tried to reach both the gas and the brake pedals at the same time. Then there was the 3-on-the-floor transmission shift. But he’d driven the truck with his dad around the farm before, so he put her in gear, and off he started – or not.

There was this snowplow equipment on the front of the truck that had to be lifted off the ground before the truck could move. Absent this step in the process, the truck stalled. Jason tried again to lift it and then move the truck forward to start plowing. And again, the truck stalled.

When I heard this happen a third time, I knew I needed to don my winter outfit and see what I could do to help. Arriving on the scene, it was easy to assess that operating a gas pedal, a brake pedal, a steering wheel, a transmission floor shift, and a snowplow floor shift – especially when your legs could hardly reach the pedals – was more than enough for one person. In the end, Jason and I plowed the driveway – he drove the truck, and I operated the plow. Could we continue to do this after every snowstorm? This was a turning point experience for me.

I had thought about applying to be an education administrator. After sending out a few applications, I received a job offer! This left me agonizing for three days with all the pros and cons of taking the position, moving my family, and starting a whole new life. There were so many things to consider.

However, unknowingly, Jason had provided me with the opportunity to make this driveway plowing the accomplishment I ultimately became most proud of. Together he and I had plowed a 900-foot driveway with an old pickup truck after a heavy snowstorm. We could do it! But it became evident to me that I did not want this life of endless farm chores, in addition to the everyday responsibilities, for my children – and myself. I made the decision.

I took the new job, moved us 200 miles to the east, into the Adirondack Mountains, and our lives were forever changed. We went to the mountains to heal – and we did just that. We accomplished rebuilding our lives.

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