And, almost exactly upon saying so, Kerry mentioned Harriet Russell’s delightful book, Envelopes.
I absolutely love it when it seems as though the bookish universe is conspiring to make sure you have the perfect combination of reads.
I picked up my long-awaited copy at the library on Wednesday and knew that I would be enjoying it today. (Thanks, Kerry!)
Harriet Russell was partly inspired by her family’s collection of bizarrely-addressed mail that still made it to their house (confusing ‘Shulbrede Priory’ as, for instance, ‘Shrubdale’ or ‘Shellicole’ or ‘Shoebred’). They had 270 envelopes of oddities.
And, yet, these letters actually reached their destination.
So Harriet Russell developed “a desire to see how far the postal system could be challenged”.
Yes, she — and I cannot believe she didn’t make use of this in the introduction — pushed the proverbial envelope. (Hee.)
Using design, puzzles, codes, illustrations, lists, charts, maps, connect-the-dots, music notes…pretty much anything you can think of…she sets the challenges for the postal staff.
Sometimes I had fun solving along with the (imagined, but eventually made real through some of the comments they, themselves, leave on the items) post-people, but mostly I just admired and ooh-ed and ah-ed over how clever they must have been.
And the best part of that is the sense of connection, between puzzler and puzzlee.
These envelopes were written by Harriet and addressed to Harriet…
but they were sent with a resounding “Heeelllllloooooo? Anybody out there?”
Have I really chatted about it this long without using the word ‘delightful’?
Do you have any other epistolary treasures to tell me about: you could always leave me a little letter below…