I loved walking to the mailbox as a little girl.
Oddly enough, I have some very vivid memories of that maple-lined driveway in B.C.’s Sumas Prairie, unpaved and often sporting playful puddles. I remember wandering back to the house, pausing here and there to see whether the spinning of the earth would eventually bring me to the back door. (My four year old mind may have been missing some of the finer points of physics.) On another occasion, an odd slappity-slap as I skipped back to the house made me aware that my favourite pair of sandals was broken.
And the puddles! Oh, the puddles and rubber boots and the hard clutch of envelopes to my chest so as not to let them plop into inviting mud. I remember particularly loving puddles…
The mailbox that hangs outside our front door is considerably less inviting than the one I knew as a child. I was a letter-writer as a child: that time when postage was cheap and email non-existant and you could meet people halfway around the world through letters covered in bright stickers and different coloured inks.
Now? Mostly bills and bills and junk and flyers.
Not always, though. One day, a week ago, I received a letter: hand written on pretty stationery by a sweet niece across the country.
It took very little effort to remember those days when receiving a letter meant digging through a healthy supply of stationery, pulling up to my bedroom desk and carefully crafting a reply. And then the march back to the mailbox to carefully raise the red flag to alert the mailman of outgoing mail.
After receiving that letter from my niece, I headed up to my spare room to search for some remnants of my penpal life. Sure enough, after a little digging, I uncovered a dusty box with some pretty stationery: song birds and matching envelopes with sweet, painted bird houses.
I can’t wait to write my niece back, write out her name and address above those sweet birdhouses, and pop that letter into the mail.
Technology might have created new ways for us to keep in touch, but sometimes… well, sometimes the old ways are sweet reminders of where we’ve been.
Did you have penpals as a child? Do you still write letters today?