“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.