Neither snow nor rain…

‘…Nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds’

This sentence is the creed of the mail carriers of the United States Postal Service. These days, I feel they should add ‘Nor heavy traffic, crazed Uber drivers, nor COVID-19 social distancing…’

This beautiful card was made for me by the lovely and generous Alys, who specially chose teal stamps because she knows my affinity for teal and that it’s the signature colour of Ovarian Cancer and the quilts a team of us makes to raise funds for the cause. I particularly love that she’s included a vintage stamp in teal from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) which was originally in her own father’s stamp collection.

Also, don’t you love how she’s made use of the trimmed-off edge of the heart on the front to make a frame for her sweet message inside?

So, having carefully and beautifully crafted it, she has entrusted it to the stalwarts of the USPS and their unstoppable motto. They in turn have passed it to our own considerably more laid back and, um, idiosyncratic mail carriers, and the other day, I had a call from our tenant to say it had arrived at our old home, and would I like him to bring it round. So there was even a third mail carrier involved!

We don’t write letters much any more, and the mailmen, or ‘posties’ as they’re called here, generally bring officialdom and financial depletion to our doors. I think that may change. As we become more and more isolated and fearful, and as we lose acquaintances, friends and loved ones, will we not feel the need to reach out to others in some more tangible fashion than a phone call, SMS, Skype or email? So, write. Write to business associates, acquaintances, friends, relatives and close family. Write to the paper (“Disgusted of Burpengary’, ‘Outraged of Wonglepong’). Write to the ones who mean something to you, or who can’t get home to you.

Of course, there’s a small fear some virus may have set up housekeeping on the letter despite its time languishing in trucks, planes, sorting offices and mail bags, away from sources of infection. So, before you write it, wash your hands. Don’t cough over it, don’t lick the glue on the envelope or the stamp. At the other end of its journey, if you’re super concerned about infection, wait 5 days before you open it (if you can), and wash your hands after you read it. Ideally, don’t cover it with kisses or blotch it with tears. Both will guarantee a hotbed of germy goodness…

But after all that, you’ll have a beautiful, tangible and poignant reminder of love, friends and family in the time of COVID-19.



55 thoughts on “Neither snow nor rain…

  1. I do love letters… I write quite a few but could (should?) write more. I love receiving them, but, as you say, it’s a rarity these days. I would have been bowled over to receive that card from Alys – it’s such a beauty.
    Although this time of “social distancing” is having little impact on my life, I think I will try to find more time to put pen to paper.

    • katechiconi says:

      Before he had his stroke and dementia set in, Pa used to write me the most beautiful letters. Born in 1923, his education included lovely penmanship and grammatical and clearly thought out sentences. They don’t write ’em like that any more…

  2. tialys says:

    That is a beautiful and thoughtful card from Alys. I read her post about her father’s stamp collection the other day and you now have some of those precious pieces in Australia which I imagine would have delighted him.
    I hope the post continues to enable us to communicate with each other in such ways – not to mention getting our F2F blocks out into the world!!

    • katechiconi says:

      Our Post Office had said they’ll be carrying on, but they won’t do any signature-on-delivery services, and nor will the couriers. Fair enough, I’d say.

      • tialys says:

        Our courrier (for dog & cat food mainly) asks if he can sign for us so we don’t have to touch the machine.

      • katechiconi says:

        I have given the post office delivery man and the local courier companies an ‘ATL’ or authority to leave, so they can dump in the agreed spot and run.

  3. Going Batty in Wales says:

    That is a beautiful card! By coincidence I had one yesterday, also with a heart, from my daughter for Mother’s Day and you are quite right that it beats an electronic message any day. Maybe with less gadding about I will have time and energy to make and send some cards or write some letters. Thank you for suggesting it.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m thinking I should write letters to Pa. They’d take 2-3 weeks, and he’s no longer able to read, being blind in one eye, with cataracts in the other, but perhaps someone could read them to him…. The trick will be getting to the mailbox! Normally, we’ve been chatting on FaceTime but that’s harder to arrange now that his home is on lockdown.

      • Going Batty in Wales says:

        I am sure someone would read it to him. Maybe by the time it gets there thngs will have eased a little. Can you walk Mouse to the mailbox? I understand that if we get lockdown I can still take the dogs out fairly close to home as it would be cruel to keep them confined indoors.

      • katechiconi says:

        The nearest mailbox is in town, so I’d have to pass other people in the street. If I pick my time of day that might be OK, and Mouse would certainly enjoy the change of route. Otherwise, I have lots of streets, canefields and paths to walk him on which are generally almost totally deserted at his usual walkies time of 7am!

  4. claire93 says:

    what a beautiful & thoughtful card!

  5. jmcheney says:

    Your card is a beautiful treasure & this post is also wonderful. Our mailman, Rickie, is a really good guy, ever faithful to walk up the drive with packages to place right by the front door. I’m going to write him a note today to put in our mailbox down on the sidewalk. I found a box of letters & cards from my early married days in the 1960s. So many keepsakes that opened a window into that time as I sat reading back to those young, hopeful years, full of so many plans for the future. I have a collection from a cousin who had just become a young mother & her’s are all about that. She is now 82, not in great health & has lost her husband & middle child. I’m deciding whether to offer her the letters, in case she would like to go down memory lane reading them. You’ve given me an idea for a hand painted cover card & note if she says she would. Another cousin I asked a few years ago when I found my mother’s saved collection from her, said No! Toss all of that to the Universe. You never know if someone would enjoy revisiting the past. I do love to ruminate around in yesteryears. No one ever writes anymore, though, not even a note dashed off “in tearing haste” (à la the Duchesse of Devonshire’s newsy letters).

    • katechiconi says:

      Letters truly aren’t just a vehicle for information, are they? They do, as you say “open a window” into other times, they’re a sort of time machine that transports you back to earlier times in your life, or remind you of the heady wonder of love, or make you cry again with remembered pain. Long live the letter!

    • Joanne S says:

      What a beautiful way to thank or acknowledge our postal carriers. Our’s is named Tom. Funny how we know our carrier’s names… I just might borrow your lovely idea.

      • katechiconi says:

        They do a great job of glueing us all together in dark days. Mine has never told me his name – generally I just get a cheery wave as he whizzes past on his little ‘postie-bike’.

  6. nanacathy2 says:

    What a beautifull card and a big hurrah for the postal service. I have received through the post cards for Moher’s Day which I am saving till Sunday. Mr E was very happy to receive a little parcel he had been waitng for- I swabbed the plastic cover for him, just in case.
    My step brother has been going through all the postcards his Mum kept and returning some to me that I had sent- for me lovely reminders of past holidays.
    Snail mail is good. A lovely post Kate.

    • katechiconi says:

      I do look back somewhat wistfully to my London days, when there were two deliveries of post a day and one on Saturday morning, and mail was collected from the letterboxes four times a day, with last post going from somewhere over near Trafalgar Square at 7.30pm… And you could confidently expect a letter posted first class to reach you the next morning. It’s all a bit different now, but I still need and value the Post Office and all its works!

  7. Moira says:

    what a lovely treat to recieve this card and the thoughts that it represents. Such a great reminder of what a simpl note can mean to somebody, esp. in these days.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s the thought and care and *personalisation*. This is for me alone! And that, to me, is the epitome of a card or letter; it is written for receiver, tailored to them and their interests. People throw out generic greetings cards unless the message is very meaningful, but something like this is kept and enjoyed again, just like a letter.

      • Thank you, Kate! I’m so glad the card safely arrived. I mailed it before I realized you were traveling and I completely forgot about your move warranting a new address! Please be sure to email it to me when you can.

  8. anne54 says:

    Isn’t Alys the most thoughtful darling? 💙 She seems to know the perfect thing to send to cheer you up.
    I got a delightful photo of my brother -in-law opening the birthday card we sent him. He was wearing washing up gloves and carefully slitting the envelope with a knife!
    I was in the habit of writing to my Mum, who lives in the same city and whom I saw regularly. It was a delightful thing for us both to do. I will start writing again, because, even though she is in the same city, I am not sure how often I will get to see her now.

  9. kymlucas says:

    I’ve been thinking of our postal employees too! My mom living facility is in lockdown to the extent of staying in their rooms. Fortunately, I’d just delivered her monthly supply of books! My brother and I are taking turns filling her bird feeder and talk to her from a distance through her window. But we’d ordered a new top for her in some nice spring colors, delivered to my house (Mom’s mailing address) the day lockdown started. Yesterday I mailed it to her along with a few magazines and a note to wash her hands after opening. Thank heaven for the USPS!

  10. Dayphoto says:

    What a lovely card. I’m so glad it made it to you. I had to laugh….sorry at this statement—Ideally, don’t cover it with kisses or blotch it with tears. Both will guarantee a hotbed of germy goodness…
    You are so right!

  11. magpiesue says:

    That is a beautiful card, and so thoughtful.

  12. Marty K says:

    People who work for the post office and for the phone company deserve special kudos for keeping us in touch with each other, especially now. Thank you for sharing your card with us and for your excellent tribute to postal workers.

    • katechiconi says:

      I foresee that for many, the mail carrier is the only friendly face they’ll see for days. A big thankyou to all our mail carriers, couriers, drivers and sorters, who can make the sun come out on a dreary day. All we have to do is write the letters that make that possible.

  13. I had guessed that card was meant for you 🙂 It’s so lovely and Alys is the Queen of Super Thoughtfulness! You raise a very good point about the art of letter writing. I owe the Snail one and Alys maybe two – and as I’m still not gully organised in my makings room I’m not quite sure where my letter writing supplies are……… Time to really hassle on with that final bit of organisation. I am ‘self isolating’ now. I hate to admit it but being over 70 and with a bit of a dickey heart I’m one of the vulnerable and the CV19 is in my city now. I don’t mind dying, but I don’t want to go out this particular way please, thank you.

    • katechiconi says:

      We have our first case here. So far, our figures hadn’t been to bad, but this past week they’ve grown tremendously despite everyone being fully aware of what the disease does and how to stay as safe as possible. Our government passed a Public Health Emergency Act in February which means that those who do not comply with self-isolation requirements can face a fine of $13,000 and other penalties.

    • Pauline, I suppose its arrival was a matter of time. I’m sorry to hear though. I’m glad you are practicing social distancing and I’m doubling glad we have this big, beautiful, blogging world.

  14. Joanne S says:

    How nice. How pretty. Alys is a very thoughtful friend. I smiled at, “officialdom and financial depletion.” We get a lot of that in the mail, too.

  15. Sharon says:

    Your post brought me to tears ❤

  16. Like Pauline, I knew when I saw the card who was meant to receive it. It’s perfectly you. Alys sends bits of her heart everywhere. I don’t make cards but try to send out as many as possible just to keep the love going round. You have a good heart in trying to stay connected with your dad so far away. I’m thinking I will put a loaf of banana bread from the freezer into the mailbox in the morning for our mail person. I never see them because the boxes are all a half mile up the hill. Maybe a little thank you note with it for their perseverance. It’s so warm out that after a bit of a rest, I will go dig out some weeds, wearing a mask of course. I’m not supposed to dig in dirt anymore. But I’m fooling them by still being here. 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      Oooh, banana bread. Wish I was your postie! Do add a little note, something they can show friends and family and feel good about themselves and what they do.

      • Had planned to put in a note. I’ll walk it up in the morning on my walk. I usually give them something at Christmas time but we had a temp for so long after our last one died of a heart attack, The whole neighborhood did a parade for his widow. 🙂

  17. Susan Nixon says:

    It’s a beautiful card, well thought for you, and you are a funny lady. =)

  18. cedar51 says:

    just about every service seems to be into “I’ll leave it at the door, after I’ve knocked” here, but haven’t heard about anything to do with NZPost/couriers. I guess that will be next…

    the card is gorgeous, and I’m so glad it made it to your lovely hands…

    regarding Anne L and her letter recipient and the “washing gloves” – it feels surreal that is happening…

    • katechiconi says:

      I suppose if one had the patience, just letting a letter lie for a few days is the easiest way of dealing with any residual bugs. Personally, I find it hard to resist tearing envelopes open! I love a letter, and despite the risks, I hope to get a few. It’s clear to me that we will all lose someone we know as this damned disease accelerates. I’d like a memento of them before it’s too late.

      • Both sober and loving words, Kate. I’ve written a post about this card, but I’ve waited till it was safely in your hands. xo Your post has really struck a chord with people. xo

      • katechiconi says:

        In situations like this, everyone acknowledges the emergency services and the outstanding work they do, the medical profession, the great neighbourhood groups. But you don’t often hear a big shout-out for the postal workers, pharmacists, supermarket staff, bus and train drivers, and so on. And they’re all vital to keeping life as normal as possible for as long as possible. I hope you and all Californians stay safe and healthy. I have you and all my distant friends tucked safely into my pocket.

  19. […] Note: Kate’s card had an interesting journey thanks to an outdated address (my bad) and the uncertainly in the time of Covid-19. She’s written a post about the card and about letter-writing in general and it’s resonation with a lot of her readers. You can read it in full here.: Neither Snow Nor Rain […]

  20. A beautiful card and gesture, but very well deserved, and I enjoyed reading about it even though it’s left me -a world class germaphobe- somewhat bemused by “a hotbed of germy goodness”.

    • katechiconi says:

      I read an interesting article the other day about survival times of the virus on different substrates. Cardboard and paper, 2-3 hours; copper, half an hour; glass, steel and plastic, up to 72 hours. Waaah! Still, mostly it’s nothing that soap and water won’t take care of.

  21. […] social connection, just through other ways. In fact I am in touch with way more people than usual! Kate wrote a great post about sending letters. Australia Post is still operating, even overseas, although there are delays to just about every […]

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