Downsizing Postcards?

Somehow my collection of postcards managed to escape the downsizing purge.

Until, that is, towards the end of January when I found out about International Correspondence Writing Month. Aha, I thought, now’s the time! Sending one postcard a day for the month of February would make a nice little dent in my stash of cards.

My postcards are full of memories of course. Dozens from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna from a summer spent in my father’s family home in the Vienna Woods about 50 years ago! I insisted on going to watch the horses and riders rehearse every morning. A box from when I worked in Bogotà, Colombia in the ’70s. Another box full – two – from ten years of working my way around the world. I’m not sure I ever left a gallery or exhibition or stately home and garden without postcards!

I’ve never been a good postcard writer. You’d think it would be easy to fill such a small space, but I just sit and stare at that little white square. Maybe that’s why I have so many.

I managed to send eleven before I burned out on my February project. A postcard a day was too intense and took too much time away from writing my novel. To be fair to myself, there were also major distractions because of family health issues.

Mulling over old memories was fun of course. What I especially enjoyed was how certain postcards would suggest a friend who might enjoy receiving it. Old friends who maybe had shared the occasion when I bought the card, who I hadn’t seen in years. More recent friends because I knew they’d be interested in the image on the card. And thinking of one friend naturally leads to thinking of another…

I’ll try again next February. If I could manage every day of the month, it might only take me fourteen or fifteen years to empty the boxes!


Finding Old Letters: The Afghan Coat

I’ve been doing a massive spring clean (yes, I know it’s November!) and have just found a very dusty and faded blue folder crammed with old letters.

These are my own letters that I wrote to my parents through the early ’70s as I worked my way around the world. Bogotà, back home, then to Durban, across Australia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi, Lahore, Peshawar, Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Tehran, Istanbul…

My mother gave me the folder when I moved to Canada. “In case you want to write a book,” she’d said.

The letter I pull out describes how my travel-buddies and I hardly spoke above a whisper as we drove through the recently opened Khyber Pass under the – to us – menacing gaze of clusters of men with rifles, how we pushed on without stopping in order to get through before sundown. Under no circumstances, we’d been told, were we to Continue reading