Yes, Dad. I shovelled out the mailbox.

Shovelled-out mailbox

The results of my labours: a mailbox that (until the next snowfall, at least) is beautifully accessible to our mail carrier. My father would be proud of me!

“The mailbox needs to be shovelled out,” my dad would say. It wasn’t an observation; it was a direct order. Oh man, how I hated hearing that!

Because in my growing-up days at the Manse in Queensborough, my dad, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, was a stickler for getting the mailbox shovelled out properly. It wasn’t enough to remove the snow that the snowplow had cast its way from immediately in front of it; we kids (the designated shovellers; Dad was busy doing harder labour, such as felling trees for firewood to heat the Manse) were expected to create a nice long spur in the snowbank so that the mailman’s (it was always a man) car could ease in toward our mailbox and ease out again, and he would be left satisfied and even happy with his mail-delivery experience at the Sedgwick mailbox.

And hey, I guess wanting to keep the mailman happy is understandable; I still love getting mail now, but back then in the 1960s and early 1970s, mail was a lifeline to the outer world. Why, even our Globe and Mail came by mail – same-day delivery, if you can believe it.

(Of course, that was in the days when Canada Post was operating on the principle that its job was to deliver the mail. Now it’s in the process of moving on to – well, I’m not sure what it’s moving on to, besides irrelevancy and oblivion.)

Anyway. My dad’s long-ago words were ringing in my ears the other day, especially after some mail (Christmas cards; how lovely!) arrived in our mailbox but the flag to alert us of this was not up. And I realized that it wasn’t up because the snowbank in front of the mailbox had prevented our carrier from being able to reach it to put it up.

So: the mailbox needed to be shovelled out.

I have to tell you that, despite my ramblings this year and last about the possibility of acquiring a snowblower, I am beginning to enjoy shovelling snow. While we are very fortunate that our neighbour John, with his handy-dandy plow, looks after clearing our driveway, I have made it my personal mission to keep the walkway that leads to the mailbox, and the space in front of the garage doors, always clear and passable. I like the fact that it makes me work my muscles, and I like spending time in the fresh air, and I like the conversations that happen with neighbours who pass by while I’m shovelling.

But my mission has involved some hard work of late, because we have had a lot of snow in Queensborough – just like Christina Rosetti‘s beautiful Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter says, “snow ha(s) fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow.” And then there was the freezing rain from the recent ice storm coating it all, which meant some serious hacking away at the heavy accumulation.

But over the course of this past weekend, I got that mailbox shovelled out to the max. I hacked and tossed and dug and cleared, and I have to tell you, that space in front of the mailbox is a thing of beauty.

The mail carrier will, I am sure, be happy. And my dad would be proud.

12 thoughts on “Yes, Dad. I shovelled out the mailbox.

  1. You’re edging toward a pet theory of mine, Katherine: So many of us now spend our working lives moving information around with little tangible outcome that we lap up the direct satisfaction we get from making a visible difference at something productive. Stacking wood, canning, shovelling snow…my million-dollar idea is to open a lodge where I charge screen-weary guests big bucks to do the stuff our grandparents took for granted!

  2. And a terrific job you’ve done! I guess we might as well get used to this sort of thing — for the next few months, anyway. But, the day will come when we’ll see things starting to melt. For now, though, I guess it’s a way of life, once again.

    Here is a nice video of some lovely winter scenes of Queensborough (and Stirling), which I’ve just come across.

    • Thanks so much for finding and sharing this video from CHTV (Centre Hastings TV), Sash! Obviously CHTV’s Terry Pigden decided that yesterday’s beautiful weather meant he should take a drive out to Queensborough (and Stirling) – and I’m very glad he did. He makes us look good!

  3. A few years ago, we’ve actually had delivery of mail refused because the area in front of the mailbox wasn’t suitably cleared!

  4. I would like to say a snow blower has been our savour. We have had the local plows do the work for us in the past but since we live in such a intricate space that need manicured care we purchased a blower. I find it the cosmetics to my home. Like eye brow tweezers. And since our mail man and mail lady are such wonderful people.. We will do anything for them. The mail won’t go away we will just have to walk to the school house to get it.
    We find the snow blower amazing in that job. O not to mention my honey clearing out the back deck for me to reach my hot tub 😉 and my bird feeders.

  5. I would like to say a snow blower has been our savour. We have had the local plows do the work for us in the past but since we live in such a intricate space that need manicured care we purchased a blower. I find it the cosmetics to my home. Like eye brow tweezers. And since our mail man and mail lady are such wonderful people.. We will do anything for them. The mail won’t go away we will just have to walk to the school house to get it.
    We find the snow blower amazing in that job. O not to mention my honey clearing out the back deck for my bird feeders.

    • Kathy may remember that many of us in Queensborough received our mail in the communal green box, each with our own individual locked compartments. Originally located at Bobbie’s store, the green boxes eventually migrated to the old school house [the QCC].

      Alas, several years ago, the Madoc postmistress, in all her profound wisdom, decreed that most of us were required to erect mailboxes [at our own expense, of course] at the end of our driveways. This was a major inconvenience in several regards: the mailman [actually, RPD: “rural postal delivery” person] had to make a multitude of extra stops instead of just ONE at the QCC to deliver mail to 30-40 households. Secondly, we lost the advantage of having a locked box which had allowed us to check our mail on a more convenient schedule [ie, weekly]. Thirdly, with individual mailboxes, the incidents of vandalism rose dramatically. In contrast, the residents of Actinolite, served by the Tweed post office, continue to enjoy the benefits of the green boxes [in fact, there are no individual mailboxes in that hamlet].

      Wouldn’t it be ironic if Canada Post, as part of its cost-cutting measures, requires us to return to communal boxes [more likely the newer brown & chrome CMBs rather that the older green units] at the QCC in the near future?

      • Interesting! I have to say that Raymond and I really like the convenience of having our own mailbox across from the Manse (where it has always been). But it is my understanding that some people in Queensborough still get their mail at the community box up at the old school, no? How did they escape the machinations of the Madoc post office?

      • Apparently, the RPD doesn’t go down every road [ie, Ramsay Rd]. So, those residents were permitted to kept their green boxes. Bill & Patti Gordon can provide the details.

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