Rural Delivery

I rode my bike to the post office late yesterday morning. I’d waited around for a while, hoping to hear from my neighbor Paula Croteau but the phone didn’t ring. Paula and her husband Michael, a gifted label designer (among other things) make rosé wines aka  “rose´ on purpose” at their vineyard just down the street from me. Paula also runs a wildly-popular cooking school out of her yellow farmhouse ( Paula had said she might be going over to taste the juice from their just-harvested grapes that morning and invited me to come along. (Their wines are made by Richard Olsen Harbich at Raphael Vineyards in Peconic ( But by eleven o’clock, when I hadn’t heard from her, I’d figured maybe she’d changed her mind so I got on my bike.

A number of people as well as my car insurance company, had told me that they had mailed letters to me that had come back marked “undeliverable.” How could that be? I’d changed my address many, many weeks back and filled out the required Change of Address form. What was happening to my mail?  “Did you fill out a request for rural delivery form when you got here?” the man at the post office asked when I described the scenario. I’d never heard of such a thing. I had to make a formal request to receive my mail? He nodded and handed me the form. “Now you should get some mail,” he said reassuringly.

On my way home, I nearly rode past Paula, who was pedaling a cream-colored bike in the opposite direction. “I stopped by your house but you were gone,” she said. She’d taught two cooking classes the day before- one during the day and one at night- and was too tired to go to Raphael. But we’d do something together, she assured me.  And, unlike in New York, when people assure one another they intend to get together- “have lunch/have dinner/grab a drink/catch up ” – without the slightest intention of ever allowing this to happen- I knew, that on the North Fork, this was actually true.  Paula rode east and I turned back west, knowing that we’d would see one another again soon.


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