Unused postage stamps & handmade envelopes.
"In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people's lives".
~ Anatole Broyard
A busy weekend pottering about the garden, baking in the kitchen and finishing household chores meant I only had the time to write two letters on Sunday: On Monday morning when I'm at the post office I'm always slightly disappointed if I'm posting anything less than three - almost as if I am letting an undetermined someone down.
Finding the inspiration for correspondence week in and week out can be a struggle sometimes, I'll admit it: I forget that half the joy of letter-writing is simply its arrival. I shouldn't worry about what news (or lack thereof) I have to share, as the content is quite often irrelevent - even just the shortest note reminds us that we are not forgotton, and the smallest gesture can make a big difference to a person's day.
Part of my inspiration for letter-writing comes from my fascination with the postal service. I make no secret of the fact that one of my greatest desires is to sort the mail at the post office - to cancel the stamps and send the mail on its journey. When I was at the post office the other week purchasing stamps and sending a few letters, the postal clerk hand-cancelled the stamps on my mail! Can you even remember the last time you saw a clerk hand-cancel mail? It simply isn't something the postal service does these days: Most letters are processed in a machine that cancels the stamps (with ugly, blotchy ink) and it's just not the same.
Which brings me to another point: Postage stamps. When I was a teenager the local post office was filled with countless rows of stamp issues and stationery supplies - critical necessities for a letter-writer. There would be a wide range of postage stamps, limited edition envelopes and first-day covers, aerogrammes and postage paid. These days, however, I find the variety limited and repetitive: Australia Post does still make regular stamp issues for domestic mail, but international stamp issues generally only occur with an increase in the price of postage. First-day covers are a rarity; the limited edition envelopes are, well, limited; and the aerogrammes and postage paid haven't changed in years. Stamp issues can be purchased online from Australia Post, but it's just not the same as going to the post office to browse, consider and select. The countless rows of stamp issues and stationery supplies has dwindled to a mere six, which have been pushed back into the far corner to make way for irrelevent (and often tacky) giftware.
Are our consumerist demands so blinding that we no longer have appreciation for the simple things in life, such as writing and receiving mail? I miss those days when I would walk into the post office and breathe in the smell of paper and ink (the smell of mail), gaze with admiration at the postal clerk as they handed me my postage stamps, who would then hand-cancel the mail, and when the postal service provided just that: A postal service.
Written correspondence has been a hobby of mine for such a long time, & Monday Mail Out is a weekly feature whereby I can share my love for the lost art of letter writing. I hope my experiences will encourage others to send out letters on Monday too, and have them rediscover the joy of sending and receiving mail. If you have a blog, feel free to join in.