“These are stopped neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.”
— Herodotus, Histories (8.98) (trans. A. D. Godley, 1920)
In the early hours of the morning, when dawn’s light begins to reach across the sky in hazy orange tendrils, the town sleeps. No dog barks, no music plays out a kitchen window, and no construction rattles the ground. All is still except for the birds who chirp pleasantly as they build up their nests.
As I wake to the gentle morning, I welcome this whisper of salutations. It’s almost sacrilege to turn my key in the ignition, but still, I do it. I drive into the core of town, embracing the blanket of dew that glistens over every storefront and mailbox. It is a beautiful day.
James smiles and Melanie hums as they band together stacks of letters. Names and addresses blend together as we prepare for our routes. My hands trace over manila envelopes, hand-written calligraphy, and bright bold advertisements. Each envelope holds a secret, each a story to tell. I once read that we all have a public life, a private life, and a secret life. Nothing seems truer as my mind is compelled to string together narratives of the lives of everyone around me.
My route takes me down Division Road to the waterfront, a path lined with Victorian-era homes, stone walls, and garden hedges. Earlier, I packed the company truck from the driver’s seat to the rear bumper with an assortment of cardboard, paper, and ink. I weave my way through labyrinthine subdivisions and small businesses. When I drop off Cliff’s mail at his coffee shop, I drink a quick espresso before I go out the door. That always hits the spot.
On the corner of Wilbur Lane and King Street, Mrs. Albertson sits rocking on her front porch. She waves hello and we talk about her family quickly. Her son is coming home from Fanshawe College this weekend to visit. She already has apple pie on the counter waiting for him. Today she has three letters: a hydro-bill, a fundraiser invitation, and a letter from a friend in Michigan.
The dawn’s break has evolved into a full sun overhead bringing the town to a steady bustle. Couples walk with their children in tow, delighted shrieks can be heard over backyard fences, and the cats meander from house to house. Everything has come to life. I walk up a winding driveway to a stone house, depositing a small letter in the mailbox and a package of books presumably by the front door. I wave to the young woman inside as I cross the lawn to the next residence.
As the sun turns to the West, families turn to their homes. As I finish up the last of my route, I glance through window panes. An elderly couple is watching the news on their television, a young family sits down for dinner, and an elderly man saunters towards the waterfront. Weaving through the last of my route, we cross paths at the edge of town. Before us lies Lake Erie with just a hint of Ohio on the horizon. The water scintillates with pale fingers of auburn. Cool wind whistles in my ears and the smell of grass lingers in my lungs. This is always the hardest part of the day, turning away from the beauty of this tableau. I could stand here for hours taking in the magnificence of the mundane. One day, there will be enough time but I have responsibility upon my shoulders and the people I love. This is my place for today. This is my place to stay.