Country Dad, City Daughter

Patricia M. Snell

© Copyright 2019 by Patricia M. Snell

Dad was a country boy at heart. My heart belongs in the city. We both persevered and learned to live and prosper where we were transplanted.

My Dad was raised on a farm in a rural part of upstate New York. As a young man, he moved to the city and suburbs of Rochester, New York to be near his place of employment. He liked having a shorter commute to work, but he felt out of place in the crowded suburbs. He was a country boy at heart. In 1960, he purchased several acres of rural property to be used as a weekend retreat from the suburbs. My parents, my brother, and I traveled out to the retreat almost every weekend to mingle with nature. Dad hoped my brother and I would learn to enjoy country life as much as he did.

The country property was unique in that it had three distinct areas that were separated by two short hills. There was a creek at the bottom where we splashed around and cooled off. In winter, the frozen creek was a good place to skate. Scrambling up a rocky hill from the creek brought us to a flat area where Dad put up a basketball hoop and built a horseshoe pit. Climbing up another slope led us to the top where we spent most of our time. A small cabin was built there. We had a vegetable garden filled with delicious peas and beans and tomatoes. Dad built a tree house where I relaxed and read Nancy Drew mysteries. There was a tire swing that sailed out over a hill. Trails were cleared for exploring the property. Dad did his best to make country living fun for me. Unfortunately, one of the things I learned about nature is that snakes live there and they scared me half to death. They were just harmless garter snakes, but they gave me the creeps, and they put a damper on some of the fun I could have experienced in the country. I never really learned to enjoy country life as much as Dad hoped I would.

After about ten years of owning the rural retreat, my parents arrived one day to discover that burglars had broken in and stolen everything of value. Not long after that, my parents sold the property to a family who turned it into a permanent residence.

Last year, 50 years after my parents sold the property, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to return to the property and visit with a family member. She showed me all the renovations they have done to transform the land and the cabin into a permanent home. She had her own snake stories to tell, like when they dismantled the chimney and a hoard of snakes came cascading down on them. My visit to the property was a bittersweet experience. The sweet part was the fun of seeing a part of my childhood and remembering everything from a different perspective. The bitter part was the regret that my Dad passed away just a few weeks before my visit to the property. He would have loved to see the place again, and reminisce about old times.

My Dad, the country boy at heart, lived all of his adult life in the city and suburbs. As for me, the girl from the suburbs who hates snakes and never learned to embrace country life, where do I live today? I wound up in the country. I found employment in the same rural town where my Dad grew up. I have lived there for more than forty years. My life mirrors the course of my Dadís life; his life started in the country and moved to the city to be near his employment, my life started in the city and moved to the country to be near my employment. We both chose to live in places where we felt a little out of place, but we could harken back to our roots whenever we paid each other a visit.

I wrote about my struggles to adjust to country living in a story entitled, Donít Ask, Donít Tell, which can be found in the story collection of The Preservation Foundation. I also wrote about my employment that brought me from the city to the country in a book that was published by The Preservation Foundation. The book is called, Substitute Teacher Domain: Enter at Your Own Risk.


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