The emails fly. What does the dirt smell like? Is there a certain plant which just seems to be everywhere? Do the people use electricity or oil for heat? What is the "mood" on a Sunday afternoon? Are there any unique local customs? Where my cousin lives, it is common for people to take a walk on their lunch break--through the cemetery. I would never have guessed that.
We each have untapped connections to other places--relatives, friends and writing buddies who live and travel outside of our experience. Just shooting off a list of questions to them may come across as burdensome...one more item on their To Do list. Instead, we can extend an invitation to share with us what matters to them and how they experience their city, their holidays or their vacation. Send them their own writer's journal, an inexpensive composition book.
Priced under three dollars, composition books offer a convenient way for friends to share notes on people watching, highlights of local festivities, bits of unusual conversations that strike them, interesting gossip, family stories they suddenly remember, descriptions of sunset from their porch and the seasonal sights and smells. They can tuck inside pictures of local sights printed on plain paper, pressed flowers, interesting news clippings or a napkin from that trendy bar.
This could also be a great way to gather memoirs from relatives who might enjoy a book from you in exchange. I intend to send two books out to my great-great aunts, one to my cousin and perhaps one to my blogging buddy in Brazil. Who knows, the treasures that come back could spark a series.
Post and pictures by Robyn Chausse