I don’t ask for much, really: a phone call from my kids every once in awhile, no parking tickets when I come out of Pier 1, to find the last Heineken in the back of the fridge on a hot day. My needs are pretty simple. But what I truly do need every day is to get my mail – which recently had not happened in, oh, close to three weeks.

You know the old postal service adage, “Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night nor nesting birds stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”? OK, I added the bird portion myself. Because the bird (according to the local office of the U.S. Postal Service), is the real culprit in the case of my missing bills.

A few weeks ago, I opened my front door to retrieve my Chicago Tribune, (which lately seems to be arriving just in time for me to read it at dinner) and, under my awning, directly over my head is a perfectly sculpted robin’s nest. I swear it wasn’t there the morning before. She must have been working the night shift with a lighted pith helmet and an aviary construction crew, because there it was in all its sturdy, muddy glory. It would have taken gale-force winds to get that nest off of that metal support bar.


I’ve been this route before with bunny nests behind my air conditioner, chipmunks under my front porch, and a cardinal who truly had a bird brain, insisting on laying her eggs in the middle of the back yard about 10 feet from the perfect little nest she built in the honeysuckle vines. Wildlife is drawn to me like senior citizens to an all-you-can-eat buffet. And this much I have learned over the last 20 years of serving as the B&B for River Forest’s furry residents: You can’t rush Mother Nature.

The next day, I did not get any mail. And the next day. And the day after that. Maybe the first time you can chalk it up to a banner bill-less day. But by Day Three, I was starting to get suspicious. I paid a visit to my local River Forest post office thinking maybe my mail was put on hold by accident, or someone was stealing my mail.

“Excuse me, but I have not gotten my mail since last week, can you look into it for me?” The woman disappeared into the back room for a few minutes.

“You need to talk to the supervisor,” I was told. “She will be out in the lobby in a minute.”

I explained my lack-of-mail situation and she politely informed me that my mail carrier had written up a safety citation against me – because of the robin’s nest. The mailman said that the bird attacked him, which I told her was a load of crap because the newspaper, although untimely, still gets delivered, as do UPS packages. The people who make these deliveries, like my mother and Jehovah’s Witness solicitors, seem to have no problem getting by the birdie barricade.

“Perhaps he has ornithophobia,” I suggested.

“Fear of orthodontists?”

“Fear of birds.” I replied.

Ms. Supervisor just laughed. Sure, easy for her to laugh: She didn’t miss the issue of Entertainment Weekly with George Clooney on the cover.

“Look, isn’t it against the law to just stop delivering someone’s mail without telling them?” I ask. “We are not allowed to steal other people’s mail or we go to jail. I need my mail! How are we going to resolve this?”

The supervisor replied in a tone only a government employee can pull off.

“He will not go back to your house until the bird’s nest is gone.”

I had to ask: “So you are asking me to choose between the mail and a robin’s nest?”

“Well, yes, I suppose that’s what it boils down to,” Ms. Supervisor told me.

“Then I choose the robin,” I said.


And I left the post office with my “Hold” mail rubber-banded together and tucked under my arm. Hah, I thought, see if that mailman gets his $20 this Christmas.

So I began picking my mail up at my neighbor’s.

The last of the three baby birds has flown the coop. We enjoyed watching each of them every step of the way. I took the nest down and kept it for a few days, just to admire the tenacity and perseverance it took for that mother bird to build it.

No mail delivery is a small price to pay to get a firsthand look at Mother Nature in action – I will never get tired of that, and am still constantly in awe.

Today, I hung a sign on my mailbox:




Julianne Wood reports that mail delivery to her home has resumed. Along with credit card bills and political propaganda, she’s again seeing Entertainment Weekly.

She’s hoping for another issue with George Clooney on the cover.

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