November 28, 2011

A parcel in a pear tree

By the time I arrived home at 4:30 pm, it was already getting dark. I hate the short days we get this time of year. I stopped, as I usually do, at the end of our driveway to pull mail out of a stuffed mailbox. We get a lot of mail, but it’s almost all junk. Hardly anyone writes real letters any more.

When I dumped the pile of envelopes onto the front seat of my car, I noticed a little slip of pink paper. I’ve gotten those slips before, and they usually mean that I need to go to the post office to pick up a package. The slip was covered in fine print, none of which I could read in the fading light, but when I flipped it over, three words were handwritten on the back: parcel in paperbox .

“It's in a paper box?” I thought to myself. That seemed like an odd thing for our mail carrier to note. I assumed that she meant a cardboard box. The books I order usually come just in a manila envelope or post office mailer. Perhaps the note meant someone was sending me a gift.

The word parcel made me think of the packages we used to get this time of year when I was a kid. My grandmother and aunt would send a big cardboard box, and we’d open it to find stacks of wrapped Christmas presents, which we couldn’t open until Christmas Eve. The word also made me remember the book The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. When Polly Pepper did up a parcel with brown paper and string, the gift always sounded exciting, even if it was something as simple as a gingerbread man. 

I glanced at my watch. I’d have to hurry to get to the post office before it closed.

The drive to the post office took me past cornfields that had been razed to yellow-gold stubble, past red barns and old farmhouses, and over a traintrack. It’s a pleasant drive, and the anticipation of a parcel in a paperbox made me smile as I drove.

In the little brick post office, I showed the slip of paper to the woman behind the counter. She looked down at it and then back up at me. “Did you check your paper box?” she asked.

“My … what?” I asked. I’d forgotten such a thing existed. I haven’t had a print newspaper delivered to my house in years. “Do I still have a newspaper box?”

I drove back to my house. Yep, there it was, right next to the mailbox: a yellow plastic box with the name of the local newspaper stamped on the side of it. Inside was a manila envelope that contained a book I’d ordered last week.

5 comments:

Jeff said...

I wouldn't know which post office to go to if I had to retrieve a parcel from it. I'm used to packages being dropped off on the front porch.

The anticipation of discovery is a wonderful end to the winding day.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

You don't get a print newspaper? But how do you start fires?

HA! Just kidding. About the fires, I mean. I love to get my local newspaper. It's as good as Facebook for gossip, and it's full of discount coupons for local stores, and its web site stinks so the only place to get that info is in print. Good ol' print : )

Jenn said...

Getting a book in the mail is like Christmas morning! It also means that I won't be making dinner that night because I would be otherwise occupied.

Lilian said...

thanks for making me smile!!

Kyla said...

When I was a kid, I loved it when the big box of packages arrived from my aunt and uncle! I kind of miss that. Now I love it when the boxes from Amazon arrive so I can wrap gifts for my kiddos.