Miracles by mail

It was late winter in New Zealand when Pauline tucked her gift in a diaphanous gold pouch and pulled the stings tight to close it. Inside it glittered and prisms quivered through the fabric and spread across her face. Then she wrapped it in a styrofoam sheet and packed her gift in a box measuring 4 x 2 inches. It weighed 1.3 pounds. The postal worker stuck a label with the words International Par Avion Air slant-wise on the box, postmarked it August 1st, and dropped it into the mouth of a large canvas sack.

Meanwhile, in another hemisphere, I waited for the parcel to arrive. August drizzled by in temperatures lower than average, rainfall higher than average, gardens weedier than average. Ferns ran amok and tomato plants refused to rouge. The garden furniture cushions from my oasis spent more time inside on the basement floor protected from rain.

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Back garden oasis

In the Rideau and the Ottawa Rivers the water stayed high and fast all summer long. The energetic current under Billings Bridge prevented me from paddling up to Carleton University.

I think there were more Great Blue Herons than usual fishing on the Rideau this summer and, thanks to the Barn Swallow condos erected by the City to encourage breeding of this threatened bird, every time we paddled under the Smyth Road bridge they announced their presence with swooping arcs above us. They feasted all summer long on mosquitos that bred like – um, well, mosquitos – in the never ending rain.

The solar eclipse came and, like a Biblical portent, tornado conditions formed and blew through the city and knocked down trees, lifted roofs, scattered shingles, overturned garden pots.

It seemed to me we had an awful lot of thunderstorms this summer. When I was a kid growing up in Prince Rupert – the rainiest place in Canada – fishermen used to say you could tell a storm was coming by the way seagulls circled. The seagulls constantly circled this summer and they thrived on an organic diet of bugs rather than French fries pulled from the dumpster at Billings Bridge’s McDonald’s for a change.

I checked the mailbox every day looking for the gift. Was it lost or had it gone on safari in Kenya or taken the Silk Road by camel or stopped off in Peru to see Machu Pichu?

Suddenly in September, the weather changed. Summer arrived. The Scarlet Runner beans I grew for their bright red flowers produced enough beans to feed us for a couple of meals. My front planters finally flowered. I got a sunburn. I wrote a short story one afternoon sitting in the oasis. I biked to work without fear of hydroplaning. I swam in Meech Lake on September 21st without a wet suit.

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September 21 paddling with the pooch

I gave up on the gift. I presumed theft. I railed against the International Par Avion Air company as co-conspirators in a multinational craft conspiracy. I spit on their name and composed a mean letter in my head decrying their evil joy-sucking enterprise.

I checked the mail box on October 2 looking for a gift I ordered for my daughter’s birthday. It was there! I ordered it on Friday, September 30th. Ha! Good ol’ Purolater came through. But what ho?! There was another small parcel at the back. I examined it. It came from a place called Dunedin. I knew no one from somewhere called Dunedin. I turned the package over and saw it came from New Zealand. Pauline’s gift had arrived at long last – 2 months after she posted it.

I pulled it out of its shimmery pouch and examined the strands. This was not a bespoken piece. It was a ready-made light-catcher Pauline offered as an experiment to hang

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Pauline’s gift for my garden

in the garden to see how it weathered. But I feel like this beautiful piece of art was crafted especially for me with its book, heart, angel, butterfly, and teacup charms all linked together with crystal and gold and amber coloured beads. It positively sings light. But the most delightful discovery was a small medallion hidden among the glitter. It said “Miracles”.

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38 thoughts on “Miracles by mail

    • I’m guessing it must have been stuck in a Custom’s office either here or there. It couldn’t possibly have taken 2 months to get here in this day and age. Thanks for the kind words, Sheila. I read your post and think we need to spread lots of kindness these days.

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  1. It says, “I wrote a short story.” Yes! That answers my question. What a beautiful gift and a beautiful dog. I’d love to go paddling with the pooch. Beautiful writing.

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  2. “It was late winter in New Zealand when Pauline tucked her gift in a diaphanous gold pouch and pulled the stings tight to close it. Inside it glittered and prisms quivered through the fabric and spread across her face. Then she wrapped it in a styrofoam sheet and packed her gift in a box measuring 4 x 2 inches. It weighed 1.3 pounds. The postal worker stuck a label with the words International Par Avion Air slant-wise on the box, postmarked it August 1st, and dropped it into the mouth of a large canvas sack”

    Susanne Ditto to all of this above! Pauline sent me a light catcher, NZ and Australia being neighbours across the Tasman Sea, mine arrived in a week’s time. It stayed in the box till all renovations were completed and we moved into the new (old) house. My husband hung it for me on the patio and the medallion on mine reads ” Remember the moments” The crystals on mine are coloured and are beautiful. And Sydney has had nothing but sunny days for a couple of months so you can imagine the rainbows when the sun shines on the light catcher!!!

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    • How I envy you sliding into spring and being able to enjoy the lightcatcher in your garden! Although, I have to say that the colours of the one I have are so perfectly autumnal that it would look amazing hanging from a maple in all its fall glory. I’m glad you get to enjoy your lightcatcher outside, Shubha.

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      • I think the poor post office gets a bad rap most of the time. We had a similar experience with something we bought in Hawaii and had shipped home to us. It too took 2 months to arrive. Thankfully we had paid for tracking on it … most of the time it spent in Canadian Customs 😦

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    • If only the lightcatcher had been hanging in my garden those 2 months, I could have begun the weathering experiment. Now it will have to wait until next May before it takes its place among the wind chimes in my back garden.

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  3. I know the postal service world wide is undergoing changes induced by economic necessity – but rowing the packet across the Pacific, tying it to a mule and herding that across Canada is taking the whole thing a bit far ….. I had completely forgotten about it and was delighted to receive your email announcing its arrival. You already have taken a better photo of it than I ever manage! And coincidentally I have just spent the last week making more lightcatchers – I really must write a blog post one day soon. I’m sorry our experiment will now have to wait until next year, I was looking forward to seeing it hanging in your little oasis and delighting you with its myriad sparkles and rainbows. Also I must add a ‘whew!’ that makes a grand total of 0 lightcatchers lost in the post 🙂

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    • Pauline, the photo doesn’t come close to capturing the glittery gorgeousness of this lightcatcher. I tried all kinds of spots to get a worthy picture including outside in several locations, laying on a black sweater (or is it jumper in NZ?) and this one – spread on our oak floor, was the best of the lot. But the colour doesn’t reflect the true golds and the way the light bounces off all the crystals. Its so damn pretty! We’ve had a spate of rainy days again so I haven’t seen it yet in the sun. Something to look forward to!

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    • He’s a good little guy in the kayak. Every now and then he’ll emerge from his place and stick his nose in the air with his front paws on the gunnel, check the horizon from my husband, and then duck down again.

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  4. Composing vicious letters in your head …. yup – I rehearse all my mean words in my head in the theory that I won’t have to actually spit the acid in the direction of the intended recipient. Sometimes it even works. But the gift! Oh the gift! How absolutely beyond my meagre dictionary of words learned it is. So beautiful. The thoughtfulness is what stops me in my tracks. It is. Beautiful.

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