Allen Norwood

Take care when you spruce up mailbox


Spring is the season for painting, planting and fixing up. A good place to start is at your mailbox, because curb appeal begins at the street. When you do, though, remember your newspaper carrier.

That’s a reminder from Lorene Thom, whose husband, Wayne, delivers the Observer in the Ballantyne area.

Please don’t paint over the little strip of reflective tape on your mailbox or paper delivery tube that reminds the carrier that you’re a subscriber. And, please, no prickly plants. “Roses are pretty – but painful,” she said in an email.

She repeated those bits of advice when we chatted. Then, because birds also start thinking about fixing up their own homes this time of year, the conversation turned to birds in delivery tubes.

If you haven’t chased a persistent nesting wren or bluebird out of your tube yet, well, be patient.

Thom said carriers swap stories about birds in newspaper tubes. Imagine that you’re alone, before daylight on a dark, quiet street. Then – wham! – you get a face full of frantic bird.

“If you’re lucky,” she said, “they don’t fly into the car.”

That happens more than you might think. The bird, disturbed before dawn, comes flailing out. The carrier’s open car window is right there, maybe just inches from the open front of the newspaper tube. In a flash the bird is inside the car.

“When that happens you just stop the car, open all the windows and hope they fly out,” Lorene said.

I’d imagine that you might have to catch your breath and clean up the coffee, too.

If you do spruce up your mailbox, remember:

▪ If you paint over that little piece of reflective tape, you make the job much tougher for your carrier. And it doesn’t take much to dull the tape. Even a mist of paint spray will make it hard to see.

“Wayne had it happen just this (past) weekend,” Lorene Thom said. “He drove past an address. … He thought, ‘Wait a minute, I think they get the paper.’ He went back, and sure enough.”

If you’re going to spray-paint your mailbox and route tube, cover the little strip of reflective tape with a bit of painter’s tape.

▪ Choose a friendly plant for your mailbox. No sharp thorns. On our street, my favorites are mums, clematis and purple coneflowers.

▪ When you turn your water sprinkler on this spring, make sure the spray isn’t hitting the mailbox and newspaper delivery tube. If you don’t have a delivery tube, make sure the water isn’t splashing onto the driveway where the paper is likely to land. Adjust the coverage area, or adjust the timing of the sprinkler to allow time to retrieve your (dry) paper.

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