People of a certain vintage remember where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember the moment I heard Saturday mail would no longer be delivered in Canada. It was summer and I was a kid in the garden eating peas from the pod. Someone in the house heard it on the radio and conveyed the information. It was sad news. I was afraid we'd lose rural mail delivery altogether. I loved walking out the lane to open the creaking metal door and maybe there would be treasure: a parcel, a postcard, a favourite magazine. There you are out in the sunshine on a country road in your cut off jeans and bare feet, cicada buzz threading the air, and you reach into this magic box and retrieve a surprise. Sometimes in mailboxes with ill fitting doors the surprise you found was a nest full of starlings. My neighbour's mailbox contained a nest so the mail lady tucked the letters carefully beside it each day and the starlings hatched, grew up and fledged. My friend and I would take turns reaching in and the baby birds would swallow our fingers. This is what we did for entertainment in the country.
I love it when people get creative with their mailboxes and spotting one that is attractive or unusual is always fun. So this year I made my own. I kept with a simple design because it works best for packages (hint hint) but had some fun with the painting. It has magnets for a closure and four coats of paint. I will plant daffodils around the base. Nowadays there aren't many letters. Movies from the library's excellent 'Books By Mail' service are my main thrill, plus the occasional internet shopping item, but half the fun is the 12 minute hike through the forest anticipating the surprises that might be waiting in the magic box.
Jay Rainey is an artist living on an island in British Columbia, Canada.