I lived through some pretty gnarly hurricanes growing up on la isla bonita. Hurricane Hugo specifically that left us without electricity for 9 months. Yes, I learned many survival skills. We also had a 6pm curfew for weeks. The bright side of this was that I read most of my high school text books thoroughly and as a result aced four AP courses which allowed me to test out of the first semester of college. Gotta find the silver lining!
So when I found out that Hurricane Irma was bearing down on St. Croix, I was reasonably stressed. I knew there would be a lot of waiting time before and after the storm with no wi-fi, and likely no electricity. A light went off in my head that this would be a great time to write letters. This calmed me down by directing my focus to something I love to do.
After we did all the necessary pre-storm preparations, I got busy packing a letter writing kit. That kind of makes it sound like a small case. So let’s be honest, it is a huge gardening tote from Apolis with lots of cool pockets that I have repurposed into a letter writing supply bag. When I packed up my Carrie Bradshaw desk and put it in storage in NYC, I knew I was going to have to find a way to store all my letter writing gear in a portable way until I had a permanent home again. One Saturday this spring after leaving a letter writing session at Maman Soho on Centre Street, I passed Apolis. I have wanted one of their Market Bags since a trip to Ojai two years ago so I popped in to get a NYC version of the Market Bag. They were sold out so I browsed around and saw the Gardening Tote and thought it would be perfect for all my gear. I thought about it for two weeks as I do with most big purchases and then went back to get it.
I packed tons of cards and stationery, my vintage and current postage stamps, my favorite Palomino pencils, my portable pencil sharpener, my entire collection of Copic markers, my favorite new Caran D’Ache colored pencils, an ink pad, my return address stamp and a few other rubber stamps, my letter writing clipboard, my journal and my watercolor paint set. And of course Postmaster Patrick resides in one of the outer pockets. He is a hand knitted doll given to me by my snail mate Patrick of Edelweiss Post.
Once I was all settled in at Grandma’s house on Tuesday evening, I started writing letters and hand lettering. We lost our electricity at 9:30 the next morning and Grandma and I sat on her screened in porch all morning waiting for the storm. Before Irma was directly over us, I was at the 15 letter mark so I decided I was going to turn Hurricane Irma into a 30 letter writing challenge. With my mind completely focused on that I forgot about all the terrible things that could happen and just wrote and addressed and wrote and addressed.
When the curfew was lifted the next morning at 6am, I had 31 letters completed. As you can see from the photo, only one was a postcard full of stickers or my definition of cheating. Most importantly everyone was safe and sound. My memories of Irma are now all about time spent with my Grandmother and the 31 people I connected with while I wrote to them. Here is a little look at my output.
In the event that you are a nervous flier, writing letters is also a great distraction when flying. If you want to try a 30 letter snail mail challenge and get your mail box filled with mail, head on over the shop and pick up your 30 Days of Letters Kit. You may just find that you pick up a habit you can use to calm you during times of stress!
Until the next blog, Rhea