If yesterday was joy, today was functional bliss.
Here are some flowers for you while I think about yesterday and today for a bit. That one lily has a scar, I notice, and it is more beautiful for it. I saw these on Queen Road today.
Okay, thanks. I needed to do that, because after I got home I collapsed into an unplanned nap, and went into that kind of sleep deep. Planned naps are great. I don’t use a spoon; instead, I just set my phone timer for 11 minutes and that usually results in 7 minutes of actual sleep, and I feel terrific. But this unplanned one could have lasted for days, so it has taken me a while to crawl out of it. But I have now, crawled out of that sleep.
Yesterday, workwise, was about as difficult as it gets. A few of us had what is called a “full coverage.” That means that every address gets one. The thing about yesterday was that we had a triple coverage. It’s nice that every house is blessed thrice by something that I deliver, but it is tough to make it work.
Beside me in my truck, on the left side, is a shelf. On it are all the letters which have been sorted by an amazing machine into a tray. Beside that are the “flats”—the magazines, and catalog-type mail that I have sorted myself into another tray. If I have a coverage, I put it into another tray beside the flats. Then I grab your letters, your special magazine that is still in print (so sad about Rolling Stone how it used to be grand but now it is a paltry little thing as it’s printed on paper), and then I grab the coverage and put it all into your box.
Oh, I have two coverages, so I have yet another tray beside the letters. I grab your letters, your New Yorker, your coverage, and then I pivot around to get the other coverage.
Oh, I have three coverages. There is no room for another tray. It is physically impossible to position it on the shelf and unsafe to put it anywhere else, so I have had to case it in. That means that I have sorted it in with your Harpers or your Atlantic and it is hidden in plain sight in that flat tray. So, you do get all three coverages, plus your letters, plus your magazines, and now you are getting Sunset. But your neighbor moved here from the South; I can tell because they get Southern Living too. You do not get catalogs because you do that kind of shopping online. But believe me, the elderly generally do not shop online so they still get catalogs too:) and they get a lot of letters and they at least get the AARP magazine. And I can always tell when grandma gets a computer or smartphone, because then the catalogs slack off, but the Amazon parcels start rolling in. And some grandmas are like totally into eBay, fer sure. They think it is awesome to shop for Christmas in April.
Well, that went on too long, my writing in detail. Suffice it to say that it was a potentially hard day on my longest route, a route I named “Joy” back in August 2017. And it was joy, inexplicable joy that came midmorning yesterday, although I did explic(k) it after the music began.
Today? As I said, it was functional bliss—like bliss, except a kind during which I could function. A guy named Orlando de Lassus helped, traveling through timeless music from the 16th century to this very day.
And toward the end of today (although I had finished my scheduled “God” route #1 where I had heard Orlando just before going into that bar to pray), I was now helping my buddy who became my former buddy and is now my formerly former buddy ∴ “buddy” on my Prayer route, his route 42.
And I saw that little boy as I turned onto 70th and would soon turn onto Queen Road. He was riding his bike and when he saw my truck he turned around and rode over near his house on Queen.
I knew where he would be. The first time I saw him last year he was waiting by his mailbox to get the mail. He was all little boy, and as I pulled up he said this is where I live, this is my box. I said that he looked too large to live in that little mailbox so I would give him his mail outside the box so that he would have more room in there. He smiled and shuffled his feet, not knowing if I was seriously daft or not.
You see, I know little boys. I have been one, and I also know that once you have been one, you always sometimes are. You get that, even if you have not been a little boy before. But, I am telling you that men who are little boys can easily be turned into men again, with just a nudge. People who do not understand that—who have never been little boys and do not understand that—well, as a man you just take it as it comes, but in little-boy mode it is just stupid that they don’t get it. And anyway I have my nudge, so . . . no little boy here.
I get it too, and every time I see that boy on Queen I say the same thing: “Oh, there’s the young man who lives in that little mailbox. Here is your mail, young man.” He does not shuffle his feet now; he looks me in the eye and laughs, and today he said thank you for the very first time. And I was just fine as I pulled away with an exaggerated left, careful to let him know that I saw his bicycle there on the side of the road. You can bet your sweet lily that I wept, but I was functional.
And yes, then I saw those flowers further up Queen. And then I was finished with the extra hour and a half that I had taken in “Prayer” after “God”.
Oblivious of the time, I headed to Ray’s farm . . .
The Etude #9 by Philip Glass provided the perfect soundtrack, beginning just as I stopped by those three chestnut trees and turned off my truck.
The trees are budding in earnest now, and I will watch them for months. I will see the buds grow and then flower, then I will see that first chestnut of the season and wait for it to drop. And I will take it.
I will follow them all, watching them fall to the ground, and then they will disappear in a day. On that day, Ray and his boys will begin to gather them, then carry them to the barn to sort them (last year it was 13 October), and then they will sell them. It will take most of a day to gather, another most to sort, and many days to sell them. I will have the first and the last, however, because I will be watching. And, even if I am not scheduled to pass by on my route, I will anyway, just as I did today. I can and I will because I must make time for this place.
And Ray would smile if he knew that I do have the first and the last chestnuts. I had taken the first, and I took the last before the day of gathering last year, the season before this one.
And now a new season has begun . . .
Photograph “WaughPaperBirch” from a pile on Linwood Avenue © 2018 Timothy Waugh