A few weeks ago I posted this photo of a mailbox. I speculated about groundhogs snoozing abed under the snow.
But I really took this picture about a year ago, not thinking about groundhogs at all. I took it while on a drive with my mother on the country roads around my hometown. As we drove, I was struck by something: the mailboxes had no names written on them.
In my youth, every mailbox at the end of every country drive bore the name of the homeowner. The letters might be scrawled crookedly, or the stick-on kind you find at the hardware store, or beautiful script, but they were there. During country drives you would pass by and say, “Oh, there’s the Miller place,” or “The McLaughlins live there.”
The namelessness feels like a dent in community. Something that used to be open now closed.
Protecting our privacy is good, they say. Still, the need for it makes me sad. Nameless, if you will.