I can tell you from experience receiving can be pretty delightful too, especially when that receiving refers to letters delivered to your mailbox, letters addressed “just to you”. Why there’s practically a radiance to them!
Big ones, small ones, in all colors of the rainbow, with artful postage stamps decorating their envelopes. Ah, commemorative postage stamps. They are like miniature paintings, lovely works of art. Notice the postage stamps in the picture above. Do you recognize all of them? Some come from Scotland, The Netherlands and Germany. I’m happy to have plenty of pen friends in the United States, but I also enjoy corresponding with people from all around the world. These people come to visit me by way of their letters.
I love company, don’t you? There’s nothing quite like it, but when letter friends come a-calling you don’t have to clean the house, dress up, or prepare any refreshments unless you’d like to enjoy those refreshments yourself. Of course you probably won’t be getting any of this company, these letters, unless you’re writing letters. And why wouldn’t you want to be writing letters? It’s such lovely fun to sit quietly reflecting, visiting with a friend via pen and paper. The Art of Letter Writing provides joy in both the giving and the receiving.
Every morning I have a few letters and postcards ready for my postman. He picks them up and off they go – north, south, east and west. Messages can travel by way of the internet, but there’s something very special about a handmade letter. I write one every morning with my first cup of coffee and then I write another later in the day as a reward for a constructive morning.
And when my friendly post man comes around I’m rewarded for my efforts for he brings me more letters, replies to those letters I’ve written. What fun!
Today was a slow mail day – only three letters and one post card, but every day can’t be a terrific mail day. Luckily I have a backlog of letters to answer from good mail days in the past. I’d love to share a few of the highlights from those letters with you on the off chance that you may not have any of your own letters to enjoy, but if you don’t all you have to do is join The Letter-Exchange, a most wonderful letter writer’s organization. I’ve been a member of this group for years. If you join you’ll have scores of your own wonderful pen friends in no time. But till then let me tell you a little about some of my pen friends and about the goodies they share with me in their letters.
There’s Joanna who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Joanna is always sending me lovely artful postcards, many with a Scottish subject. I share her delightful day trips to places like Dundee. Joanna says Dundee has to be one of the coldest places in Scotland which she says is really something for I guess Scotland is a colder country then I ever imagined. Joanna tells me Dundee is set on a hillside on an estuary of the river Tay which flows out to the North Sea. It encounters a particular east coast climactic phenomenon – a sea fog that is blown inland. It’s fun to imagine I’m there with her. Joanna tells me Dundee is not a wealthy place and has few restaurants, but surprisingly it does have a Mexican restaurant. She enjoyed a dinner there for $12 and to give you an idea of how this price seemed low to her she said her friend enjoyed a Mexican dinner in London at about the same time, but that dinner cost $80.
Some day I just may travel to Scotland and meet Joanna in person because my husband is an avid golfer and Scotland is one place he’d really like to play some golf. Thanks to Joanna I now know we must take along our woolen underwear if we make the trip. She’s full of information about where to stay and what to do in her country. She’s my personal Scottish travel agent. I bet she has a great recipe for tea time shortbread.
Then there’s Cindy… Cindy lives in Milford, Connecticut. I love New England having lived in Boston. Massachusetts myself. Cindy shares pictures of her Connecticut neighborhood and the flowers she grows in her garden. She’s one of my ” girl friends”. We talk about motherhood, gardening, cooking and daily life things. Cindy is an artist and it’s fun to share ideas for our artful projects. Girls need lots of girl friends. And since my town of Hudson is in a part of Ohio known as The Land of the Western Reserve (It was Connecticut’s western land holdings back in the late 17th and early 18th century) well, I feel a kinship with Connecticut people like Cindy.
But I also enjoy West coast people, people like Almita. Almita lives in Menifee, California. She and her husband are avid bird lovers. They love nothing more than traveling around in their RV and bird watching. Thanks to Almita I’m learning a lot about birds. Did you recognize the birds in the pictures from her last letter? Both birds are Black-crowned Herons, but the lower picture features a mature Heron whereas the upper shot reveals a juvenile Heron. Thanks to Almita if I should run across any Black-crowned Herons in the future I’ll now be able to name them. Letter friends are full of knowledge and enthusiasm for all sorts of things and in sharing they not only double their joy, but they also educate and inspire us.
If you have a passion for literature, particularly the literature of Mark Twain then you would love Greg as your pen friend. This is because Greg lives in Hannibal, Missouri, the same town where Samuel Langhorne Clemens (who became Mark Twain the author) lived from the ripe old age of 4. Greg is a Mark Twain enthusiast. All of his letters bear the Mark Twain commemorative stamp and he even sent me many of these postage stamps so I could use them on my letters to him. Though he writes about all sorts of other interesting subjects too (especially astronomy) you can count on him for information about Mark Twain. All you have to do is ask him.
I did, and before I could say Tom Sawyer there was a large white envelope in my mailbox. It was filled with post cards and brochures about Mark Twain and his town. He also sent me a very nice booklet entitled, A River, a Town and a Boy. After I finish digesting all this information Mark Twain will surely become another of my “dead friends”, one of the interesting people from the past who entertains and inspires me. And to think Mark Twain and I might never have had the opportunity to connect if it weren’t for Greg.
We may only have one life to lead, but if that life includes a lot of interesting pen friends then that one life becomes so much more. Pen friends turn the whole world into a friendly neighborhood. I can’t imagine life without them. Another time I’ll share more of my pen friends with you and if you join The Letter Exchange you just might develop a friendship with some of these people yourself.
But before I leave you and because Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner I must share a recipe that my good friend Mary sent to me. Mary lives in Forestville, California. She’s an old college friend and a retired Colonel in The United States Air Force. Though Mary lived in various parts of the United States as well as Germany and England, places far from me, we kept in touch through letters and these days we’re still writing letters to each other.
Often we share recipes in our letters because Mary and I both enjoy cooking. Well, today one of my three letters was from Mary and a little yellow post- it-note in that letter said, “My friends made this and it was excellent, very moist. I plan to make it soon.” And I, Carol Ann, plan to make it soon too… it being a Turkey while you sleep. My turkey is defrosting in the fridge as I write. Maybe now, thanks to the wonderful Art of Letter Writing, you’ll be making this recipe in the next few days too. If you do you can thank my pen friend Mary for sharing.
Turkey While You Sleep
Ingredients: 1 uncooked turkey, 1 tsp. salt, 2 stalks of celery with leaves, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, 2 cups boiling water.
Process: Sprinkle salt inside turkey cavity and insert celery stalks. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan and rub with melted butter. Pour boiling water around turkey, cover pan tightly, and cook for 2 hours for 14 pounds or less, 2 and 1/2 half hours for more than 14 pounds. After cooking time, turn off heat, but DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR. Leave turkey in closed over overnight (8 hours). Turkey will be ready to slice and refrigerate the next morning, with plenty of drippings for gravy.
So ’til we meet again I leave you saying
“Happy Letter Writing” and “Happy Thanksgiving” too.
8 thoughts on “They say it’s better to give then receive but…”
It’s such a joy to connect with others, like you, who love to write or type letters that are then sent by snail mail. Epistolary expands our world of friendship and knowledge. More than anything, for me anyway, it’s FUN! I love choosing the stationery or notecard, including a photo or two that I’ve taken (yes, usually of a bird!), adding a sticker or two to the envelope and sometimes using old commemorative stamps for the postage. I have a lovely antique desk that I use solely for writing letters. Sitting at it with all my writing material at hand is all part of the ritual. Sometimes I light a candle and/or have a cup of tea while I’m writing. It is an honor to see that you included the two Black-crowned Night Heron photos I sent you in one of my letters. Just one correction: the photo on the bottom is the mature Heron; the one on the top is the juvenile. 🙂 Looking forward to your next letter and your next blog!
Carol Ann, it is such an honor to be recognized by you for a second time in your blog about the enjoyment of having pen pals. It just so happens that just before I sat down at the public library’s Internet computer to read this blog today that I stopped by the Mark Twain Museum to purchase another copy of the book for myself that I had sent you that you mentioned above, “A River, a Town and a Boy” and, in the process, chatted with a very nice woman shopkeeper for quite a while who helped teach my daughter, Holly, when she took dance lessons many moons ago. Thanks again for recognizing our pen pal relationship (to others) that I value very much.
Keep doin’ what you’re doin’!
Almita, How beautifully you described your letter writing ritual. I feel just as you do. It’s such a delightful experience to slow down and share in this way… so artful, so expressive. Gee,silly me. I can’t believe I reversed the pictures concerning the young and old Heron. I was having some trouble posting those pictures and I obviously reversed them without realizing it. But don’t worry. I’ll fix the mistake before too many people see the post. It’s so nice to see you here on my blog. I hope you become a regular visitor… fun to write you letters and fun to share in this format too.
Greg, I truly was delighted with all the Mark Twain materials you sent me. It was so nice of you to go out of your way purchasing all that for me. I will enjoy reading the book and I love all the postcards. I have a little miniature easel and I like to put different postcards out each day. I’ll think of you when the Mark Twain postcards get their turn. I’ve always said sharing doubles the joy and it seems you feel that way too. You are becoming one of my favorite pen friends… even without the gifts.
Dear Carol Ann,
I received your delightful letter today and am commenting eagerly–although I have only read one entry in your blog. You must indeed go to Scotland. We drove through Dundee a few years ago and it was bracing—in a very good way.
Thank you for introducing me to your blog.
Welcome to my blog. I hope you return many times. You know I intended to mention you in that last post – the tea you were so kind to send me and the English history book you’re reading… oh yes, and the picture of Mrs. Hughes and her butler boyfriend from Downton Abbey, but it was getting late when I was writing the post so I cut it short. Don’t be surprised if you make it into some other letter writing post. People need inspiration. (smile)
Hi, got your letter–#11914.
Hi Starman- 11914,
I’ll be looking forward to your reply in the days to come.