Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In praise of the written letter

I recently wrote a letter to a friend, and found it to be a real struggle to write. Not the subject matter, but the actual act of writing. Keyboarding has replaced penmanship and I know that my handwriting has suffered as a result. It is so much easier to send off a quick e-mail than it is to get out the writing paper and pen, and sit down to compose a missive.

I got to thinking about some of the most memorable hand written letters I've received over the years, and not surprisingly, most of them have been love letters. One I received was from a young man I'd met at a Ranger/Rover camp the summer of '73 before I went into Grade 12, and with whom I kept up a correspondence until the middle of the school year. His name was Glenn, he wore a kilt as part of his Rover Scout uniform and I thought he was charming! He spent the summer working as a Junior Forest Ranger with the Ministry of Natural Resources somewhere way up north, so phone calls were pretty rare. One day I got a letter written on a piece of birch bark, enclosed in an envelope made of 2 larger pieces of birch bark sewn together with leather cording! Yes, Canada Post delivered it, and I hung on to that letter for years, long after I lost contact with Glenn. Last I'd heard, he'd become a Catholic priest...I wonder what would have happened if we'd kept in touch?

Another neat love letter I got was written by another boyfriend who was a university student in Waterloo. He sent me a letter written on computer paper 4" wide and about 6 feet long! He also wrote it lengthwise, so that the letter was only about 2 lines deep, meaning I had to lay it out on the floor to read it!

My most recent serious love interest was a financial planner with a flair for painting watercolours. He would send me hand painted cards, usually scenes of places we'd been together. They weren't strictly letters, but they were personal notes to me, and I treasured them. I still have them tucked away, after all, they are original watercolours signed by the artist!

However, my most treasured letters are those I've gotten from Leslie, my sponsored child in Peru. Right now her mother is doing the writing, but I look forward to the day I get a letter hand-written by her. I'm also waiting to hear from my newly sponsored child Felicia, a beautiful young girl from Ghana. Now those are truly LOVE letters!

Ironic isn't it, that this computer generated blog has inspired me to get out my fountain pen and start writing long letters, SWAK (that's 'sealed with a kiss').

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