LSS: Words and zip-codes

I suppose the new nine-digit zip codes serve a purpose. The codes are like Social Security numbers for locations. Every one is distinct and specific. In theory, a letter could be delivered to the correct address with no additional information beyond the nine-digit code.

There’s merit in efficiency. However, so many numbers make my head go squishy.

To begin with, I’ve never understood why house addresses need to have so many numbers. If there are less than 999 houses on a street, is there really a need for four-digit street numbers?

Given my preference for words over numbers, I long for days when houses had names. Not that I ever lived in those days, but still, I wish it wouldn’t sound ridiculous to call your home by a name. In that spirit, my family and I have been searching for the right name for our home for five years.

Like any good name, the name needed to be able to stand on its own but needn’t be contrived. It should fit the landscape and be easy to say and spell.

Finally, we found it.

To appreciate our home’s newly christened name, you need to know a few important details. First, our home is not a normal home. We readily admit that it’s strange. The back of it is primarily glass. (We try our best not to throw stones.) In our early search for a house name, the giant, magical Live Oak that dominates our backyard captivated our imagination. Its branches twist and turn every way. One lumbering branch nearly stretches the length of the house is covered in what led the next goose chase in coming up with a name.

When we first moved here, I couldn’t figure out why the lush green fern covering the limb would be green and beautiful one day and dried up and brown the next and then green and wonderful the day after that. When a neighbor explained the nature of Resurrection Fern, the mystery was solved. But calling our house “Resurrection” didn’t seem quite right.

Continuing the search for an appropriate name, we considered the house’s other prominent feature. It’s on a sliver of the Vermilion River. However, every decent name with Vermilion seems taken. We didn’t want to be confusing, even among ourselves. Vermilion is derived from the French word vermeil, used to mean any red dye. Nevertheless, vermilion is a specific shade of red used since caveman days, also called China Red. The pigment, derived from cinnabar, is a naturally occurring substance most plentifully found in China.

When I heard the word cinnabar, I knew we struck something good. The word makes a direct connection to the Vermilion. The association with pigments fills our artistic requirements. The clear connection to China is a solid reminder of our youngest daughter’s homeland.

Check. Check. Check.

Remember though, if you write us and put Cinnabar on the envelope, your letter won’t reach us, but you can use the nine-digit zip code for that.

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