By Bruce Stambaugh
It happened in a flash, as scary moments often do. I was mere inches from serious injury if not death. My guess is we all have events like this.
I don’t mean to overdramatize this. The split-second incident helped me further appreciate both what had previously occurred that day and what I was about to encounter.
I had already had an illuminating morning. I got to help my Amish neighbors run some timely errands. They had made dozens of glazed donuts for an open house at a nearby greenhouse. My task was to deliver the golden goodies and their makers to the party. It was hardly a chore.
I also got to see the wayward Rock Wren again. Why this cute little creature landed two miles east of my house smack in the middle of the world’s largest Amish population, I have no idea. I just know it did, and the property owners were more than hospitable to any and all who wanted a chance to see this rarity.
Hundreds came to view this bird that belonged in the Rocky Mountains. This was only the second recorded appearance of this species in Ohio. After taking too many photographs of this feathered rock star, I returned home.
I checked to see if the mail had been delivered. With a small hill to the north, I have been especially careful about crossing our busy county highway for 34 years. The vehicles tend to zip along despite the posted speed limit. Just like my mother taught me, I looked both ways, and crossed to the mailbox, which sets well away from the road.
I grasped the handful of letters and turned to retrace my steps. At that exact moment, a car driven by a young man roared by going south in the northbound lane. As he passed two other vehicles, his rearview mirror nearly clipped me.
I don’t think the young driver ever saw me. He was too focused on getting wherever he was going. At first, I stepped back to catch my breath even though the roadway was now clear.
Then I smiled. Rather than be mad or frightened, I immediately became filled with gratitude for many things. Being kept safe topped the list. Others included the fulfilling experiences and interactions I had already had that day.
I determined to be even more grateful for the rest of the day and all the days that followed. I would he thankful for the people I meet along the way, too.
My life continued. I visited friends near Mt. Hope that had a pair of Barred Owlets roosting on a tree near their home. The afternoon sun beautifully highlighted the cute, cuddling pair.
Another friend had given my wife and me our first morel mushrooms of the season. Neva sautéed them with olive oil and a dash of salt, and we downed them with over easy eggs and some locally raised and cured bacon.
It may have been one of the best meals I had ever eaten or was glad to eat, given the close call. For dessert I relished the relationships with friends and family as much as the savory mushrooms and bacon.
My mailbox episode was an important universal lesson. We need to express our gratitude whenever and wherever we can as often as we can. We just never know when we will no longer have that chance.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014