you can learn a lot of history from stamps
“Do you know why Florida is called Florida?” the man selling me stamps asked.
Coincidentally I was posting a letter to Florida.
“Because of all the flowers there. It’s “florida”, flowered?” I answered, repeating what I had learned as a child.
“No.” And he continued with this quiz: “Do you know who discovered (sic) Florida?”
“DeSoto? Pizarro?” I guessed, adding “or someone or another.”
Where was this conversation going?
“Ponce de Leon and he arrived on (author’s sidenote — some saint’s day that had something to do with flowers) … day. So that’s why. ”
“I see” and added that I had once lived in Atlanta, in the nearby state of Georgia, and one of the main avenues in the city is called Juan Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Nodding the postal clerk kept his focus, “I wonder if people in Miami know that.”
Just thank him and leave. I’m sure he’s talking about whether people in Miami know why Florida is called Florida and this whole Ponce de Leon thing. And it’s been fine. He seems genuinely enthusiastic.
“Thank you and have a good weekend,” I said.
Nearly done. He gave me my change and stamps and said, “You can learn a lot of history from stamps. They’re not just pretty and practical.”
surprises in the post
Ever since I was a kid I have loved writing and receiving letters. I had pen pals, I was delighted to be given the “junk mail” to open and gladly took and fetched mail from the mail box.
Even today, despite having to hand a wide range of digital tools for instant connection, I love the process of writing a letter.
From the niggle of an idea to write, and to whom, and why and then what to say and writing it, which can take days, then eventually getting the letter and maybe extra bits into the envelope, finding the recipient’s address, addressing the envelope and, nearly there now, going to the post office. And, zoom, ….
… from my hands, into anothers’ and eventually into yours! Sometimes that process happens in reverse and I get a surprise in the post.
new blank page
Recently I’ve taken the art of letter-writing to a new level and I’ve started painting and collaging on envelopes and cards I’ve received and sending them on to others. I mean, really, what else can I do with such pretty simple things? I can’t put them in the recycling. They can’t sit out and around forever, because, gratefully and joyously, more always arrive.
What a surprise and treat it is to receive something in the post which stirs memories of love, fondness and warmth. Sometimes handwritten, which adds another layer of personal story and art.
I love and cherish the art of letter-writing. So “re-newing” and passing on beautiful cards seems natural. They too were thoughtfully chosen and tended to in their own writing and posting-process before finally reaching my hands. Continuing the trail of love and thoughtfulness is a fitting use of them.
I also make original designs (my own cards) but I take particular pleasure in re-designing cards I have recieved.
Maybe you’ll get one of these one day soon. Check the envelope, is the stamp a portrait of Ponce de Leon? Well then, I probably posted it today.
Over and out for now, and go check your mail box!