in a world in which bank bills and passion, catalogue orders and invites, teacher notes and to-do lists, itineraries and plane tickets all can come into your screen, into your daily agenda, at the click of a button, there is something sublime about succumbing to the slow pace of letters with stamps.
something even richer if you slit open the envelope and consider the vast possibility for what you can stuff deep inside, cast off to the clouds, with little more than the 39 cents that, as of this minute, the mail minions claim is the bottom-line cost of doing the business that will not be stopped by rain, sleet or snow.
you’ve read and you’ve heard, you’ve considered, i’m sure, the rapture of actually picking up pen, choosing ink, choosing paper. putting down thoughts in that old chicken scratch that gets scratchier by the day, i swear, what with the lack of practice, and maybe the eyes that now make it fuzzy, fuzzy all over, oh no.
a letter for no reason. a letter for thank you. or i’m sorry. or i love you. or, god, this is bad, is there something to do to pull you out from the deep dark place you’ve plunged into?
it’s just that once in a while there is something marvelously breath-taking about stopping the flow, taking time out, creating in real time, and stuffing your heart in an envelope.
ah, but here’s where we rip open that envelope. think outside the confines of words penned, flatly, on paper.
here, people, is where we go into the third dimension. here, people, is where we really consider what you can do with the limited room of an envelope.
here’s where we see what we can stuff down the throat of the folded-up paper with the gummy north rim.
i am particularly fond of sending mail-sized surprises, stumbling across some little thing that triggers a thought, makes me think of a someone. and rather than waving goodbye to the thought as it travels along out the distal hole of my head, simply succumbing.
just the other day i was perusing the aisles of a spice house, an amazing, intoxicating shrine of a spice house, filled with all sorts of jewels with fine smells. the furled logs of cinnamon sticks, the shining little stars of anise, peppercorns in pink and green and white, vanilla in long lanky pods you couldn’t wait to rip into, for the soft sweet treasure inside.
well, in my mind, this is just the sort of place for envelope stuffing. imagine the joy of opening an envelope stuffed with, for no reason, a packet of herbes de provence. or slitting the sealed edges of something postmarked to you, and finding three anisey stars spill in your palm. maybe even a recipe napping there, too. let loose your inner marco polo, dispatching spices from hither to yon.
bulbs, too, make for fine winter wonders. even just one tucked in a safe nest of papers. or packets of seeds, beckoning spring, promising summer. imagine the reverie of twirling the seed tree and picking nasturtium or sweet pea, big boy tomato or chocolate bell pepper, or the one i’ll never forget, forget-me-not. a packet of bath flakes. a few bath oil beads, especially the ones in shapes like the moon or the stars or the proverbial rubbery duck.
anything little. anything sweet. anything willing to slide into the confines of a letter-sized, legal-sized, or heck even a manilla-sized lickable post.
these are the sorts of once-in-a-blue-moon surprises i delight in mailing along. packing some wholly unanticipated folly into the folded-up paper that is addressed and sealed with a stamp.
what a sumptuous treat in these drab days of the winter that will not scat, to know that, just a few days after you stuff, lick and stamp, someone you love will reach to pick up the mail, expect nothing so much as more grist for the recyclable mill, and suddenly, unexpectedly, stumble upon you and your envelope whimsy.
suddenly inserting a good dash of joy into the spiceless stew known as a long day in winter.
i know you’re an imaginative lot. so you’ve probably already thought of, and executed, a vast army of marvelous mailings. anyone willing to open the envelope, and divulge the contents inside?
when i was in law school many years ago in a northern place far away from my family i sent them a box full of beautiful fall leaves to enjoy. i was missing them terribly and wanted to share that very beautiful season with them. when they received them they thought i was crazy –except for my grandmother who loved them and saved many of them in various books and bibles!
I like making envelopes out of newspaper or magazine articles, or the Sunday comics. I like going to the post office for stamps that convey something about the topic of the letter inside or about the receiver. For Valentine’s Day, the post office was selling chocolate kisses stamps. And, I have a sheet of super heroes stamps that I use when mailing to my family and friends–for example, I might mail to my dad with a stamp of Flash Gordon, or to my daughter with Superwoman. I also like to write the address on the outside, then doodle around it, placing a crown over the first name, for example, or a birthday cake and candles. Origami shapes mail nicely–or a homemade bookmark. I fear that sending written epistles through the mail is a dying art. Look where I am writing this now–on-line to a blog! So Barb, you get no handcrafted envelope or quirky stamp!
the magnificent simplicity of gathering leaves in the autumn, sending them to a place where autumn never comes, or not in so colored a way. the magnificent creativity of making the envelope itself, taking time to pick a stamp to punctuate the theme. spending little money, expending much heart, that’s what this whole meander was really all about. breaking open the ordinary, making the smallest moment shine. bless you both, and marie, you are so very welcome to be here at this table. you will forever be marie, queen of the leaves……it sparks a million ideas in this little head of mine, for sending 3-d packages of life where we’re living it…..to those who we love far far away….
I, too, believe that a postage stamp is nearly as important as the material contained within the envelope. Last year, when stopping at the post office to purchase stamps during the Holiday Season, my friend, Gail laughed when I told her that I had to look at ‘kid friendly’ stamps. After choosing Disney Stamps (mostly because of the Little Mermaid) and affixing them to nearly 200 holiday cards for children, I was delighted when Gail told me that her daughters were thrilled to receive a card from me. Gail’s surprise came when her girls excitedly pointed out the Little Mermaid stamp. Gail is now a believer of the importance of choosing the right stamp.
It is so nice to know that there is someone out there besides myself who still loves and believes in the postal system.Here’s an old poem I wrote when I was a senior in high school and had a conversation with someone about how I planned to write people letters when I went to college.RevivalI used to correspond with people via the United States Postal ServiceA pen pal in Austria, one in England, another in ArizonaAn occasional card from my grandma in ChicagoBut letter-writing is a dying artA fading pastimeAs if I have outdated myselfby wondering why I haven’t received any mailAs if I belong back in the Renaissance ageWhen affectionately putting ink to parchmentWas enough to win the heart of the man across townOr to simply communicate with a faraway friendI, like my long lost correspondents, resortedto electronic mailAlthough I do still run to the mailbox every day with a hopeful jump in my stepBoth end in disappointmentThe moment I open either oneWhat physically ends up in my handsare credit card applications or nothingthat even has a hint of my name And the digital mantricks me by announcing You’ve Got MailOnly to list three porn mass mailings, a useless chain letter, and yet anothercredit card approvalI asked someone on the computer once:”Why do you prefer technology oversitting down and writing a letter?”Their typed response:”Because I am a god typer.”What an appropriate typo.So I stopped clacking away at the keyboardAnd thought about the graceful way a hand glides back and forth across stationaryAnd how a pen is pretty muchthe most technologically advancedinvention I’ll ever needHow engaging the ink looks as itSpeaks poetryHandwriting is beautiful I sit down at the table-my Pilot intertwined with fingertipsI wonder how John is doing….