Love letters

Why do so many of us love snail mail so much? It's not convenient, it's not immediate, and it's not free. Email can be all of the above. So can IM and even SMS (depending on your plan). So what's so great about the mailbox? A few years ago, we thought the digital age would end snail mail altogether. Like, video killing the radio star all over again. Yet today, the sight of a handwritten letter in the mail makes many people leap for joy. Letter writing projects and cooperatives are springing up all over the world, fuelled by folks who love to stay in touch.


Is it nostalgia? Do we yearn for the days when things were done slowly, carefully, and by hand?

Or is it the personal touch? Does the sight of pen-on-ink, wonky handwriting and lines through mistakes bring us closer to the writer than their spellcheckers, SMS shorthand and emoticons ever could?

Is it the tactile nature of snail mail? The crunch of autumn leaves underfoot as you walk to the letterbox, the creak as you lift the lid, the texture of that envelope as you hold it in your hand, weighing it without realising you're doing it, judging by thickness and shape what you might find inside.

Or is it as fundamental as novelty? Now that our key mode of written communication is digital, does good, old-fashioned mail simply represent the allure of the unusual?

I don't have the answers. But I can tell you I love receiving mail, AND sending it.

I am not fast. It takes me a while to write to my friends. To think about what I want to say to them and then write it down. To decide what to include with my little letter. To plan how I might make the envelope pretty, something special to receive. I put the 'snail' in snail mail.

These days, I even make snails look speedy. There are many people I want to write to right now, but the carpal tunnel syndrome that has dogged my pregnancy makes it even harder to hold a pen or pencil than it is to type. Soon, my friends, I promise to write to you. Or maybe I will succumb and type my letters for you. But that just wouldn't be the same. Would it?

These photographs are of a wonderful little package I received in the mail last week from my pen pal in Germany, Astrid. She sends the most glorious mail. I love unwrapping the surprises she sends me (so does Ruby the cat). ps. Astrid recently put her creativity to work and opened an Etsy shop. You can find her sweet, handmade items at Flora Likes Soap and if you buy something, tell Astrid I say hello. She is just a lovely person.