Friday, June 25, 2010

Post #55: Letter Summer

I have decided to make this the long letter summer. (By which I mean the long email and Facebook message summer.)

It’s the first summer I’m spending in Burlington, away from home, and living with two fantastic roommates, Allyson and Connor, which means that every couple of days I find myself alone, sitting around in the apartment, looking for something to keep me entertained for another hour before Allyson gets back from work. I try to avoid turning on the tv whenever possible (especially when it’s still light outside,) but when I don’t feel like carrying my camera up and down the riverwalk and taking pictures of the Winooski River from every angle at every time of day, I write letters.

I started by emailing my sister, Rebecca. She lives in Beijing, so sometimes I talk to her on Skype and sometimes I send her an email from work, but it wasn’t consistent until a month ago. Now we write about once a week.

Writing someone a long letter for the first time is like planning to visit a friend you haven’t seen in years. It’s fun, but also makes you nervous and awkward, and there’s too many exclamation points because you’re trying to hard to brush together a quick collage of all the things that have happened to you that don’t require too long of an explanation.

Now my emails to Rebecca are much more fluid. A few weeks ago I sent her an entire email just about running a relay for the Vermont City Marathon and how I am thinking of running a full or half marathon next year. Like a long conversation, a series of long letters starts with the broadest stuff (job, family, romance, health) and moves to the much narrower details (i.e. the same topics with more interesting stories.)

I recommend writing a few long letters this summer. It’s a good way to reconnect with people before you visit them, because you will already be caught up on their lives, so when you get together, you can have more fun conversations. You will have already studied up on their daily routines, references to other people, and the details of their most recent life-changing events, so you can pick up in the middle of a conversation instead of starting a new one.

It doesn’t take long to write a good letter (about half an hour should do it) and the process is fun if you focus on writing what you want to write instead of what you what you think you should write. If you’d like to, you can write me a letter and I promise I will respond. Good luck!

1 comment:

Walter Jeffries said...


I read your "I Believe" about process and steps. You've got it right, walking just behind your passions and letting them lead you. This is what I've done and each year, each month, each day I get things done that move us forward towards our goals.

On the topic of little houses, you might enjoy seeing ours. Our family built it in two months - that was two adults, a teen, a tween and a three year old. It is 252 sq-ft but extremely massive because we built it out of masonry, stone, brick and concrete. The roof is a ferro-cement barrel vault so that it is able to take any snow load and even a future berm of earth. Because it has such a high thermal mass inside its insulating envelope it takes almost nothing to heat through our cold Vermont winters. Virtually everything is built-in for space efficiency. Because of its construction and materials our cottage is virtually maintenance free. It is a wonderful space and a great satisfaction for us as a family to have built our home ourselves. Small houses are great - a place for everything and everything its place. See our tiny cottage at:


-Walter Jeffries
at Sugar Mountain Farm
in Vermont