Sunday, February 27, 2022


In Pamplona, Spain, every year, they have an event in the month of July, as part of the Festival of San Fermín, called L'Encierro, or The Running of the Bulls. Basically, what happens is that between six and twelve bulls are released from a corral and encouraged to run down the streets in a herd. The locals pay money for the dubious privilege of running in front of and alongside the bulls. So it's like a cross between the Boston Marathon and an all-ages entertainment event at the Roman Coliseum. It's dangerous, noisy and a big attraction for tourists and locals alike. In rural Erin, we have a similar event that occurs every winter, except it's really unpopular, cold, and nobody has ever come out to see it. The first time I noticed it was in early 2020, and I actually didn't witness the event, likely because I was snug in bed, but I certainly heard the scraping noise of the municipal snowplough coming down our rural road about 4:30 a.m. When I got up, I noticed that my rural mailbox, formerly upright, was now leaning so far to the south that it was imbedded in a snowbank. I'm not one to spring into action to fix something that the municipality might feel obligated to fix for me, so I waited. And then I waited some more. Pretty soon it was clear that the snowplough operator didn't feel a sufficient sense of civic responsibility to report himself to the municipal authorities, and that if I wanted the mailbox repaired I'd have to wait till spring. Spring came, along with my nephew Angus. He promptly drew up plans for a stronger base for the mailbox, arrived with all the materials in tow, plus his friend Matt's new circular saw, and by the end of the day I had a very superior rural mailbox installation. I was proud of it, and even more proud when neighbours commented on what a good, well-executed design it was. Winter 2021 came, and with it another mammoth snowfall. When I heard the scraping sound of the snowplough coming down the street, I leapt out of bed just in time to see a smaller snowplough turning into my neighbours' long winding driveway. Just before it turned, it hit my mailbox again, this time knocking the red "You've Got Mail" flag off the side of it and leaving the mailbox still attached but at a 45 degree angle. I straightened it out again, replaced the red flag, and began to wonder whether I should invest in an inflatable plastic police officer to stand sentry at my mailbox during the winter months. It's now February 2022, and the end of winter is nigh. But the other day, after a heavy snowfall, my mailbox took another hit. I know we're not much of a tourist attraction in midwinter, but surely the Tourism people at the Town of Erin can make some money out of the annual Running of the Snowploughs. Our Municipal motto is, ERIN: EXPERIENCE THE CHARM. In Winter, let's just knock off that C, and we can EXPERIENCE THE HARM instead.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022


I'm in a foul mood today. A car or truck must have hit a massive raccoon across the street from my place. It ended up deceased about a metre north of my rural mailbox. If you've never lived in the country before, here's an important piece of advice: never aggravate the mail delivery driver. One way of aggravating them is not to shovel the area around your mailbox in winter. If you do that, you're never getting mail. She'll keep it in her truck till the cows come home, and she won't tell you either. I like getting mail, so I try to be a good citizen and keep a wide swath of roadside shovelled. Sometimes it's a battle with the municipal snowplough, but since I'll never win that battle, I keep my shovel close at hand. Anyway, the raccoon. It appeared to be giftwrapped in red ribbon, which seemed unnecessarily festive. It took me a while to realize that raccoon entrails look like red ribbon. I began to notice more crows than usual circling over my property, and realizing that they could be my allies in this situation, I figured I'd give them space. But I haven't had mail for a few days, and I was pretty sure Vanessa, the Bringer of Mail, would consider a dead raccoon to be an offense against her as an individual, and against Canada Post Corporation as a whole. So I got out my snow shovel, walked several metres north of my mailbox, and dug a large flat section into a snowbank, a bit farther back from the gravel shoulder of the road. I walked back to the scene of the crime, loaded the deceased onto the snow shovel, and trudged back to the plateau I'd dug into the snowbank. Having deposited the raccoon onto its new resting place, I offered a brief but heartfelt prayer, trying not to breathe, and added a few words of thanks for crows....and for Vanessa. Because I'd really enjoy getting some mail this week.