It had been snowing all night, and I remember sitting in the upstairs bedroom, peering out the window as I waited for the farmer to come plow us out.
There was a sense of dread, of helplessness.
I was worried.
This was our first home and it sat on top of a bluff with a view down a long valley. Since we measured the length of the driveway in football fields, shoveling was not an option.
The farmer charged $25 an hour for his work at a time when I made half that.
He had been there a day earlier, spending a couple of hours freeing us from the grip of the snow.
What we learned with that first big snowstorm was that the wind whistling up through the valley quickly deposited 3 more feet of snow back in the driveway.
The farmer had to come back, and it was deeper this time.
I watched him attack the snowdrifts from my perch in the upstairs bedroom, trying to calculate how many hours it would take to again clear the driveway. I watched the clock as the farmer slowly worked his way up the driveway with his John Deere tractor. Each minute of his work weighed on me, because I knew this wasn’t in the budget.
I worried that the winds would howl again tomorrow. And the farmer would have to come back.
I remember that as a low point, knowing the snow would return again each time the wind howled up the valley with no way to stop it.
We all have worries, concerns that we deal with on a daily basis that change, evolve through our lives.
From the bills we can’t pay, to our parents’ health to our children’s education to, eventually, our own mortality.
Those are the real worries in our real world.
Those of us that live in that world know that.
I’m not worried about illegal immigrants rampaging through the country, causing mayhem, when it is simply not true.
Our government, our politicians have become pretty good at selling us fear, and far too many of us are buying it because it distracts us from the real challenges we face.
What are your biggest worries?
Try ranking them.
North Korea and the Iran nuclear deal are not on my list.
I’m concerned about the well-being of my family and the betterment of my community.
I have concerns about climate change and believe everyone should have access to quality health care, Social Security shortfalls need to be addressed and our children deserve the opportunity to get an advanced education.
Those are significant concerns and complicated problems that need to be solved.
Instead, we are talking about a wall to keep out people looking for a better way of life when illegal immigration is at one of its lowest points in years.
It just shows how out of touch politicians are with real people with real problems, because they don’t have to deal with the snowdrifts that sometimes bury us.
The farmer came to me a few days after plowing me out and told me that I needed a snow fence. He explained that if I put up the snow fence on the side of the driveway where the wind was coming from, the blowing snow would hit the fence and be deposited short of the driveway.
I put up 100 feet of snow fence a few days later.
When the winds blew, the driveway remained clear and the farmer could stay home.
Ironically, sometimes a barrier is the solution.
Just not in this instance.
Ken Tingley is editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.