Some of us keep blogs, which is a sure fire way to learn more about each other and FAST. I remember the first time someone said , hey you are vivian the viking and tada and tada and tada and they rhymed all these things they knew about me from my blog. It threw me back. Sometimes when you write for a small audience you forget there are people reading and taking an active interest in your life. But even for those boxers out there that don't keep blogs it is easy to pick up on things just by the boxes they hide, the clues they write, the topics they carve about and the flare they use in doing it all. Letterboxing is an extremely personal hobby and as such opens us up to instant connections with each other, relationships that require so little effort and maintenance. Sure there are other hobbies that bring people together but the interesting thing about letterboxing is that we don't come together in the same way other hobbies do. A bit part of our hobby is based on that anonymity and individualism, in hiding, in finding. We get together once a year for sure and that is enough. Sometimes relationships run deeper of course and you make time but for the most part that one solid interaction a year is what we rely on. There is of course other things happening, emails and conversations and so forth but the most of our bonding is in the forest and requires interactions with letterboxes, which are extensions of ourselves.
Think about it, when was the last time that you carved something and you hated the topic, or the image, or the theme. It just isn't done. What we choose to carve is an extension of who we are, what we like. How we plant is an extension of who we are and how we engage in our community. So for some it means a 5 mile hike, for others it is on top of a mountain, for others it is in the urban core of their city or home town. It is in places we love to visit, and parks that we have family memories in. Everything about carving and creating a letterbox is personal and just by finding and appreciating that box I have a vested interest in who you are and our hobby together. I challenge people to look at their plants list, and you will see the clear journey you have been on as a letterboxer. For me, I started with a robot fascination- robots are still cool but that obsession has passed a bit. Then the first time I ever carved a face (Betty Paige for an LTC) spawn a desire to do more portrait stamps. Then there was the zentangle phase, and then I started getting more personal with my stamps and letterboxes and trying to engage people- like post box on celebration, Silly Chicks waspy tete a tete, Shelagh's Cheese, the Hello Kitty fiasco of 2013, and now I find myself being challenged to go towards more intricate stamps (which I have always stayed away from). while my history is short I am sure for those letterboxing for years that you can see some patterns as well.
My point is that we see these patterns in ourselves but also in others. By engaging in Bumbles letterboxes I learn so much about her (aside from her habitual need to move over and over... and over and over). Same goes with others whose letterboxes I hunt a lot.
I have been reflecting today on the passing of Safari Man. I have had a number of conversations with Safari Man over the years, mostly me gushing, asking for stamps for box-on, thanking him for the boxes from box on and so forth. I did not know him very well at all, as someone outside letterboxing especially. I first became dedicated to Safari Man as a stamp carve at the Black and Orangeville event where a few of his stamps were present. At that time I was not even carving and it baffled me how someone could possibly be able to carve like that. I had a goal, someones art to look up to. I sought out stamps he carved in Buffalo and braved a thunderstorm in the middle of October to get one of his stamps in New Hampshire- On my knees, in mud, moving rocks- trying to find the stamp. Which we did, and then I went back this past year to get the stamp again (a better imprint- but it turns out I liked the first one more because it had a story). I also asked Safari Man for a stamp for Box-On 2013. I asked for a stamp from him for selfish reasons. I wanted to have another of his stamps, but even more I wanted others to experience his stamps (Rod Stewart and Huey Lewis). It was important to me that others in Ontario felt connected to his art as well. And hopefully that was so.
So hearing of his passing baffled me. The internet allows us to hide things, like on November 7th when he emailed me to respond to my enthusiastic email telling him about box-on I had no idea that he was sick and that my window to send him pictures of the event was so short. I feel a bit bad because that email still sits in my AtlasQuest inbox and I never did send him pictures. So without knowing a man, and only knowing his name from the mail he signed as Glenn, it is interesting to me that I can feel like I knew him. I am glad that I can feel like I knew him and I am glad that Ontario has some of his boxes for future generations of letterboxers to find. It is funny how much we bond with each other without even knowing simply because of the art we leave in the forest.
So while the rest of my generation mourns the death of Paul Walker I am going to take extra time tonight to look at the stamps I braved storm and deep forest trails to get and to shout out to a carver that I will continue to always admire. I have to find comfort in the fact that letterboxing in the spirit world HAS to be out of control. :D. RIP
|Rod Stewart with his cassette tape logbook- Safari Man art|
|Huey is down the stump, tied onto a wire and you can pull it up from the wire.|
|Huey and Rod- Great mail day|