Moon Snail Project # 55: Snail Mail

April 21, 2013

“Our correspondences show us where our intimacies lie.  There is something very sensual about a letter.  The physical contact of pen to paper, the time set aside to focus thoughts, the folding of the paper into the envelope, licking it closed, addressing it, a chosen stamp, and then the release of the letter to the mailbox – are all acts of tenderness.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Old-fashioned snail mail.  This precious letter is saved in my commonplace book.

Old-fashioned snail mail. This precious letter is saved in my commonplace book.

“More than kisses, letters mingle souls.”
— John Donne

Old-fashioned snail mail. . . these quotes remind me how soulful hand-written letters can be.  I mourn their near extinction.

Hand writing a letter means carving out a quiet space in my day; assembling the paper, envelope, stamp; choosing a favorite pen; and thinking about the recipient and how I can reach across the miles in friendship.  Letter writing is about connection and sharing an intimate piece of myself.

“For letter writing I need more than the most necessary tools: some silence and solitude.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Emails are okay for perfunctory communications, business, and scheduling arrangements, but something is lost when we use emails and texting for more personal communications.  As a society, we seem to accept this loss in quality and have adapted to the new normal where hand-written letters are a rarity.  It is such a shame, because writing a letter takes little in terms of money and supplies.  It’s the time that’s valuable.  And why do we so readily spend our time in frivolous ways, like watching T.V., rather than making time to write a letter to someone we love?

Snail mail is so rare that the few hand-written letters I receive are precious.  Some are definitely worth saving, like this letter from a new friend, Anne, that I pasted into my commonplace book.  I loved everything about this letter.  The first words Anne wrote were “Tuesday morning, raindrops on metal roof.”  Already she has transported me into her world.  I love her penciled printing, so clear and evenly spaced.  I love that she shared a story about a book she had read while traveling, one that she thought I would enjoy, too.  She doesn’t know me well, but she knows I like to read, and I felt like she really sees who I am.  What a gift!

And how wonderful that my moon snail shell holds these pleasant associations with snail mail.

Moon Snail Shell # 55, watercolor sketch of "snail mail"

Moon Snail Shell # 55, watercolor sketch of “snail mail”



3 Responses to “Moon Snail Project # 55: Snail Mail”

  1. Ladybug Says:

    You are now working outside the box.

  2. Elisa Says:

    This one made me feel so happy that I giggled!

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