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The Return of Feliciomo (And Other Things That Are Happening at My Mailbox)

Posted Nov 12 2008 2:52am

Check the mailbox. Pick dinner. That's become my daily routine as the fall crops are prolific in my new raised bed garden around the mailbox, the one that has turned out to be the best of all my beds. Who knew that spot was so perfect? And not a day goes by that a neighbor doesn't make a comment, sometimes concerning ones that make it clear how detached many are from their food such as thinking an orange pansy is a pumpkin plant. I hand children peas and peppers and pieces of lettuce and they look at me like they are not quite sure what to do next, and so I chomp down right in front of them and their eyes light up and I realize I have just swung open a door to their imagination and a world of possibility that they never even knew was there.

Check the mailbox. I'm finding fewer catalogs this year, and calling to have them canceled immediately. My favorite cancellation was Land's End when a sweet older man told me that he was very sad to see me go but very happy I was trying to save trees.

Check the mailbox. I like getting the "cause-marketing" catalogs and checking out my options for holiday charity this year. We do a charity-exchange with some of the cousins which involves a letter from each set of kids to the others about why we chose what we did. We have done Heifer International many years, packing up a small, local container of honey to send with the letter the year we gave the symbolic beehive. We wrapped up small water bottles with the letter last year to talk about the drought and about what Ryan's Well is doing around the world to bring fresh water to people in need. We're leaning toward Nothing But Nets this year, where each $10 buys a mosquito net that saves a family. My younger daughter suggested we take the money we are planning on spending and buy lottery tickets (something we did a couple years ago when my friend was dying and her daughter was sleeping over each week) and then use all winnings to buy more nets than we would have bought and to save more families. I explained that by doing that, we may lose all the money and then save no one. A big dinner discussion, full of ethical debate, ensued. It is a gift, I think, to have those kinds of conversations.

So I look and relook at the National Wildlife Fund catalog. There are pages and pages of "symbolic donations" you can make, saving this animal and that, and most of your donations result in you receiving a plush stuffed animal representation of that animal. Made and shipped from China, no doubt. Hmmm. In fact, I get emails every week from the NWF offering more and more useless merchandise when you donate. Is it just me or is the marketing department at the NWF off-mark? I like the NWF. I want their fundraising efforts to be successful. But a quick shout out to you at the NWF--eco-minded folks don't need more fleece blankets and backpacks and stuffed animals from questionable labor and environmental facilities halfway around the world.

Check the mailbox. What I have for giving is right there, and in the beds in my back garden. If, with the help of Farmers D's compost and the fabric row cover and rain and sun and love, I can get that $25 worth of Seeds of Change seeds to really produce, then I can meet my goal--to donate a bag of fresh greens every week this holiday season to Plant a Row for the Hungry, which, here in Altanta, means to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Food banks are dangerously low. Fresh, local, organic greens are full of nutrition and flavor and are hard to find in November and December. And I don't have to support plush stuffed animal factories to share them.

And speaking of the mailbox, I ran into Feliciomo the other day! I told him the mailbox project in my neighobrhood was a go (all the mailboxes are about to be replaced), the first week of December, and that I would call him to arrange for him to come get the mailboxes to sell as scrap metal. I told him my name was Pattie and he looked at me perplexed. Finally he exclaimed, "Pa-treeee-cia!"

"Yes! Pa-treeee-cia!" I replied.

And so, I have just a few more weeks of the mailbox garden, as the back plants get bigger and bigger each day. Just big enough.

Enough. Now, if I can only give people in need enough, at least to have a bowl of fresh salad on their holiday table . . .

And, for today, I get to hear that way-more-beautiful rendition of my name in my head, from a man I happened upon by chance. Twice now.

Coincidence? Or not? Perhaps Feliciomo should be the first recipient of my mailbox garden harvest?
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)

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