Okay. So we live at the end of a dirt road, which is at the end of a series of other dirt roads. Twenty years ago, when we bought the house, I thought dirt roads were the coolest thing. Still recovering from my years on East Fifth Street in New York City, I thought our new spot was so nature-centered, so God-ish, so cool. No First Avenue busses moaned their way outside the window, no traffic stopped and started twenty-four-seven, shaking my bed. Nope, not now. Just the chipmunks and the occasional ice fisherman on the back road serenaded me. I was in back-to-the-land bliss. For a while.
Twenty years have almost passed. My relationship to dirt roads has matured now, informed by the reality of twenty mud seasons, twenty snowy and icy winters, and twenty years’ worth of dusty dry spells.
Our roads are not plowed by the town we live in, to which we pay our grown-up-people’s taxes. No, we belong to an “association”, to which we pay dues, from which a contractor wins the bid to plow our above-mentioned dirt roads. So, while the town is busy fastidiously plowing the beach road behind our house, our tax dollars mightily at work insuring the safety of the two ice fisherman, our association roads are erratically maintained by a series of rotating, contracted plowman.
And now it is our present winter—I mean, late fall, 2013. A big snow is predicted, Saturday night into Sunday. Because I have to get to work on Sunday morning to close a program I am teaching, I eye the weather cautiously as night falls. Between the computer and the window, I attempt to ascertain the possibilities. Really? Ten inches expected by morning?
We have a new plow man this year, our last one, Matt, burned out from his endless interactions with disgruntled home-owners and the never-ending need to sand the icy frozen dirt.
How will the new guy do? Will I be able to get out at 8:00 a.m.? Can I make it over the mountain to work?
Snow, which has been flirting with us all day, begins to thicken as night darkens. Under the cloak of a darkness, the flakes intensify, swirl wildly, and begin to stick. Oh, here we go, I think.
Ready for bed at about 9:00, after hours of thick snow blanketing our world, I hear the moan of a plow outside our window. Pulling up the shade, Ras and I investigate. The busy little plow truck moans and groans its way down our road, stopping just short of the tent-garage where our cars live. Backing down the road, he returns again, widening his path, but not continue down toward the front of our house!
I am enraged. Bastards! I leap into a fiery tirade. Surely this is an attempt to rip us off, to try to charge us separately for our “driveway” plow. This is not our driveway, I curse into the darkness. This is the road! I start practicing the phone message I’ll leave Steve, the association’s president, in the morning, defending our right to be fully and thoroughly plowed.
Ras, standing quietly next to me, shakes her head. “No, he just doesn’t know that it’s okay to drive down here.”
My head swivels toward her. Oh, could she really be that naïve? It’s her West Virginia background kicking in. I shake my head silently, knowing the truth. We’re being ripped off. Knowing her so well, I don’t try to prove my point. I simply know that I am right and she is, in fact, wrong.
Sleep comes eventually, as I dream restlessly of snowing roads and alarm clocks dancing in my head.
Morning does arrive, in spite of myself. Lucy and Zac the dogs stand readied just inside the front door, leashes on, peering into the snowy darkness with me. It looks dauntingly snowy out there.
I open the door. Snow lives! Our porch has been transformed into a mountain of snow. I pull the reluctant dogs into it. Oh, I should have shoveled first—right, I forgot that! Our bodies plow through, snow up to my knees and their shoulders, as we make our way toward the area where steps should be. We cautiously work our way down, onto the fieldstone that is under there somewhere, and onto the unplowed road.
Bastards. Plowman bastards.
Speaking of which, I see the little plow truck making its way toward us in the 6:00 a.m. darkness. I pull the dogs off into the side of the road, hardly distinguishable now. The truck comes next to us.
Passenger window rolled down, a young woman’s voice says “Hi’.
I am strangely surprised that the “bastards” take the form of this young woman and her faceless driver.
“We’re wondering where you want us to put the snow—we’re not sure,” she says.
Oh. It’s that simple? I tell her where the end of the road is, how to plow up to the cones marking our rock garden. She waves and the truck continues down the road, plowing the road in front of the house, the garage, and the end of Oak Road.
I am surprised and relieved.
The Doodles and I continue down the newly plowed road. I shake my head in wonder, last night’s intensity transformed into a silent, snowy morning.
In a few minutes, the truck passes me again. She rolls her window down again.
“Your dogs are so cute.”
“We’ve been up all night plowing the town roads, too. We’ll go home when we’ll done here, we hope,” she says.
I thank them both, tell them to be safe and go home soon.
They wave and continue on, two young people trying to make a living in Berkshire County, I imagine, working their way through the labyrinth of our little community in the breaking light.
I walk into the dawning morning on the newly plowed road, pondering. How could I have been so negative? Why would I so completely dismiss Ras’ perception of the moment? Was it just my anxiety about getting to work that clouded my response? How could I get so riled up?
Thinking the worst about life and the people around me is an ancient emotional pattern of mine. Over the years, I have practiced shifting from it to that of positivity and possibility.
I walk and consider the lesson here.
I know that I choose to continue practicing seeing the best in the people and the things around me. It is how I want to live. It is who I choose to be.
I smile at the perfection of this lesson. Reality, my always-teacher, returns me back to myself, to the realignment of the positive, my intention on this snowy, beautiful dawn.
I continue on.