I am doing the A-Z challenge, focusing on places or entities that can be found within Mendocino County. I do not intend to imply that the subjects of my writing are the most significant, only that they have personal relevance to me. Today’s letter is m for mailbox.
A Neighborly Thing to Do
Like Island Mountain, today’s subject is not one that people are accustomed to viewing, unless they live or drive regularly here on Bell Springs Road. The first thing you need to know about Bell Springs Road is that it is in a remote part of the county. Many people are either very uncomfortable driving in such desolate places, or they are petrified. Annie’s Aunt Marie, when she was still alive, was frightened out of her mind at actually being in a vehicle driving up this dirt road.
When I think back to 1974, when we first drove up from San Jose to see these parcels, I have no memory of the drive from the highway to here. I just remember being with a real estate guy who had no clue where the individual parcels lay. He could find the stakes, marking the parcels, right along Bell Springs Road, but that did no good when it came to traipsing around the property.
Nowadays, when driving up from the highway, there are still very few actual homes or structures visible from Bell Springs Road-only gates, with roads heading back and away from the main artery. A few have mailboxes, but most do not. My folks originally built a structure only a hundred or so feet off Bell Springs, but then had a road put in to get down to their building site. They do have a mailbox on Bell Springs because my mom always had this idea that she would some day get most of her mail delivered there. It never happened. Annie and I have never had a mailbox on the road. We go to town to get our mail.
All that being said, there is this one mailbox, located not quite all the way up to Green Gate Road, which does have a mailbox, and I might add, one that is as unique as any I have ever seen. Well, I don’t mean the box itself is all that different, but the fact that it is always decorated, is one the most neighborly things I have ever encountered.
This driveway has not always been here; I remember when the road was put in and I remember trying to see if there was a house visible from Bell Springs Road-there is not. But the astonishing thing is that for many years now, the mailbox changes with the time of the year. For instance, right now it is decorated with green flowers-chrysanthemums maybe? They appeared a week or so before St. Paddy’s Day.
At Christmas, the mailbox is done up in green and red, with a festive motif to acknowledge the time of the year. At Halloween there are ghosts and goblins; around the Fourth of July it is done up in red white and blue. The folks who own this parcel are as consistent as the sun rising and setting. And there is no gate to speak of. There may be a gate but I have never noticed it. And I have certainly never seen it closed.
I firmly believe that the people who do this mailbox-decorating, are simply the most neighborly folks in the county. The good-will that I feel emanating from this site is very powerful stuff. I have never seen anyone doing the decorating, and to this day, I do not know these neighbors. If I did, I would be very effusive in my appreciation for what they do, in brightening up my own spirits.
It may be a small thing, but it goes a long way to feeling a kinship with folks I have never, to my knowledge, met. I keep saying that I am going to write them a thank-you note, but so far, I have not done it. Wait a second-maybe I have. I may just have to drop off a piece of correspondence to them, in that nicely decorated mailbox, a short essay about a neighborly thing to do.