Thursday, March 27, 2008

This Rural Life

Yesterday, when I went to refill the squirrelfeeders (technically “birdfeeders,” but who am I kidding), I opted not to wear my snowshoes. In the wintertime I normally have to wear them to make it across the backyard in any sort of timely or dry fashion but I figured I’d be fine without them this time, seeing how it’s the end of March and it had been in the sunny low 50°s (F) all day. Silly Mouse. Faster than you can say “black oil sunflower seeds” I had broken through the crust and was buried up to the middle of my thigh. Now, I’m not tall but still – mid-thigh! That’s at least 2 feet of snow. In my backyard. At the end of March.

All this white stuff has been a real gift for the skiers in these parts. We’ve had a good season with conditions well above average, verging on good quite often, and even possibly construed as great (for Eastern skiing) on a couple of occasions. However, all this white stuff has been a real burden at my house. Because our driveway is too short to merit plowing (says the lifelong Maine girl who grew up at the end of a half-mile dirt road) and we’re too cheap to buy a snow-blower, Mr. Mouse has played Hercules and shoveled a Thirteenth Labor’s worth of snow out of the drive and off the roof this year. I of course feel guilty not shoveling my weight with my puny girl-arms, so I try to keep the mailbox dug out at least.

For those city-livin’ fans o’ mine, we have what’s known as a “rural mailbox.” It’s a metal mailbox on a wooden post that sits at the side of our road and that regularly gets buried by the town snowplow as it makes its first pass down the street. And by “buried” I mean completely submerged: over the top of the post and behind a solid, compacted, frozen-slush snow-bank multiple feet thick. As you can imagine, the digging out is pretty brutal, especially if you’ve been gone skiing all weekend and come home on a Sunday night after the plow has gone by twice. I’ll admit I couldn’t keep up with it – I even broke a shovel trying to chip into the bank – and the mailman started leaving me nasty notes. You see, a “rural mailbox” has to be dug out so that the mail carrier can drive right up (our guy has an old Ford station-wagon) and open the box without stretching; the USPS requires a fifteen foot ingress and a fifteen foot egress. That’s thirty feet. You’ve got to be joking.

But they were serious and actually stopped delivering our mail until I had an actual flash of brilliance. I bought the cheapest rural mailbox I could find ($7.99 – metal with an all plastic latch and flag, real high quality stuff) and duct-taped it to a 2x4 we had lying around. Then I marched out to the road and shoved the far end of the 2x4 deep into the snow-bank until the new mailbox was perfectly positioned. Next day: mail. And so on with uninterrupted delivery for over a month now. As the snow-bank melts, I go out and reposition my contraption but it hasn’t needed much adjustment thus far.

It has been suggested to me that I not bother with the mailbox 'til spring - if I don't get my mail, I don't actually get the bills, right? Well, until someone figures out a way so that I don't owe the money if I don't receive the bills, I'll keep my juryrigged, duct-tape laden rural mail receptacle in place. Or until all the snow melts - which is looking to be July at this rate.

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