Sunday, July 19, 2009

We just returned from a visit from Maryland, where many of our family members live. Our parents always love to give us things when it's time for us to go. (Do all parents do this, or is it just one of the many eccentricities of our families?) This trip, my dad gave the kids flowboards (OHMYGOODNESS) and he thrust a cookbook at me as we were headed for the door. Of Tide and Thyme is a collection of recipes that celebrate Annapolis, the city in which I was born. I don't know why my dad had the book in the first place, as he is much more a red-meat-and-sausage kind of guy. I figured it was a gift from someone and I was quite sure he wasn't going to use it himself, so I took it and thanked him.

On this lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to flip through my new cookbook to see if I had anything on hand to make any of the recipes. What I found tucked into the pages between Hot Buttered Crab and Baked Rockfish Stuffed with Crabmeat was a treasure I didn't expect. There were two old, yellowed envelopes, postmarked 1960 and 1962, each with 4 cent stamps.

My dad had mentioned that I would find something special among the recipes, and now I knew what he meant. One was a letter to my dad from his dad, written while he as in college. The other was a letter to my dad from an old family friend.

As I gently slid the letters out and read them, I smiled. The penmanship was exquisite and the contents were the stuff from everyday life. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing major; just chit-chat in the written form. People making an effort to stay connected. How beautiful that I had the privilege to read them.

As I tucked the letters back into the envelope and slid them back into the cookbook, I thought again about the power of the written word and how so few people use the US Postal Service to stay in touch these days. There are so many other ways to keep in touch these days-- all much faster and laden with instant gratification. I love (most of the time) that I can instantly contact friends and family and they can do the same with me. But today I was reminded that I need to make a more concerted effort to write notes and letters and send them via "snail-mail". Maybe the recipients will do the same and I will tuck them away to be shared someday with my grandchildren.