In the long and lazy past; in those almost unfathomable pre internet-and-e-mail days, I used to get great pleasure from writing and receiving letters.
It started when I was quite young, perhaps grade two, when my best friend Zeenat moved away from Toronto, to Nairobi. I used to love receiving her whisper-thin, crinkly blue, self-sealing air-mail letters. On the front were stamps showing animals I'd only ever seen in books or on nature programmes. I'd tear the edges open, and on the inside would be stories about her life in a land half-way around the world. We did this for a few years until the letters petered out and we eventually lost touch.
Since then, I've had letter exchanges with a few friends, but in the past few years - and I do blame e-mail for this as much as my own confounded laziness - it's dwindled.
I love the physical act of writing on paper. I love being able to tuck photos, drawings, other miscellany into an envelope and post it to a friend. But I haven't been doing that lately. It is so much quicker to fire off an e-mail. (I rarely use the phone - I have an almost pathological dislike of talking on the phone.)
Recently I was reading a post on Alisa Golden's blog. Alisa is an artist, writer, and maker of beautiful books. Her post "Save The Paper Mail" was an answer to recent concern about the trend away from letter writing. I was so gung-ho that I posted a comment, and as I was one of the first three to do so, was lucky enough to receive a lovely hand made postcard. Did I mention she's also a fabulous calligraphist.
In my comment, I mentioned that my dear friend, Kristin, who lives in Vernon, British Columbia (a world away it seems), knows a woman who's started a once a month letter writing club there in the Gallery Vertigo. Cards made by local artists as well as stamps are available to purchase; there are tables and chairs; and most importantly, an environment to encourage the art of letter writing. Groups like it exist in many places as people are drawn, more and more, to putting pen to paper and stamp to envelope.
So, last week I bought a pad of paper and a packet of envelopes. It's good to get back at it. I just hope I can stick to it.
I would also like to offer, in the spirit of Alisa's post, to send off hand made postcards to anyone who might be interested. Just let me know in a comment (e-mail me your address) and I'd be happy to do so.