Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman...

Postal letterboxes seem to have a shroud of controversy around them. Some boxers think they are the greatest thing and others don’t think they should be called letterboxes at all. And as usual with my personality and zodiac sign (Libra), I’m right in the middle, hinging on the balance. Riding the fence. Mediocrity at it’s finest. But that may be because I’ve only started to participate in this aspect of letterboxing.

I was talking with jackbear and Lock Wench about postal boxes at the Dartmoor Tor S’more mini gathering back in June after the Ithaca meet. I told them that to me it sounded like an interesting idea for when the snow piled up and I couldn’t go anywhere boxing. The box would come to me. They were inclined to agree except that Postal rings took forever to get done and you had to pay to mail them all. So if the Ring was large, not only did it take a long time to get all the boxes but the cost could become substantial. Not to mention that I would still have to make a drive to the post office to ship the parcels.

They pointed out the things I hadn’t thought of, in my excitement to get stamps and logbooks through the US postal service. And later, I came to see comments on Atlas Quest boards about postal boxes just being an exchange of art. Since the definition of letterboxing includes the aspect of deciphering/following clues to find a hidden box, many found it hard to see postal boxing as real letterboxing. Boxes don’t hide in your mailbox and you don’t “find” them there. But I was encouraged by the fact that so many letterboxers defended postal boxing as just another aspect of the entire experience and if you don’t like it, then don’t participate in it.

But then, I considered how I spend my winters. With snow on the ground, it’s hard to get out into the woods. How exciting to receive a letterbox anyway! I think of all the letterboxers who have health problems or don’t like to do a long hike. What a fun way to participate in letterboxing! What a great way to see artwork from across the country. I’m not much of a traveler so I don’t know if I’d ever get to California or even Florida but with postal letterboxing, I can still see some of the artwork done in those areas by those letterboxers.

With all of this ringing in my ears, I joined my first PLB (postal letterbox) Ring. It was a topic I simply couldn’t resist; the villains of Scooby-Doo. Being a huge Doo fan, I eagerly signed up for the ring, made the postal board on AQ one of my favorites, and hoped that I could do it justice. Lurking on the postal board had taught me the jist of how a postal ring worked so I jumped. This ring has just launched so I’m still waiting for some results as to how I will like postal letterboxing.

I also joined jackbear’s PLB ring based on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and all B-grade sci-fi flicks. I’m currently working on that postal box. I have the stamp carved and the logbook almost done but I want to put in some extras for the members of the ring to have as a special gift.

Overall, I’m not sure about the postal thing yet. I still think it’s a great concept and I want to participate in this aspect of boxing. Do I consider postal boxes to be letterboxes and do I consider it letterboxing? Yes! They don’t add to your find count (which is the way it should be) but they certainly take as much time and money to prepare as a regular plant. And those postal boxes that have made the rounds probably end up being planted sooner or later.

I don’t think postal letterboxing will ever replace the “follow the clues to the box” True, Traditional boxing. But when you look at all the oddities of letterboxing, (cooties, personal travelers, micro boxes that don’t even have logbooks…) it’s all from the same parent stem. All can be enjoyed for what they are and no one says you have to participate in all aspects. The great thing about this hobby is the diversity of it; something for everyone to enjoy!

As I just finished up writing this, I received my first postal letterbox in the mail. It was just fantastic. I can’t wait to see the rest in the ring! I’m learning so much and all of it just fascinates me.


  1. Really liked your post on postals. Couldn't agree more. It has drawbacks, but it takes time and money to go find a letterbox in the woods too (gas + time), so postals are too much different really. As winter draws near, I'm looking forward to postals too...just like turkey and pumpkin pie.

  2. And apple cider and donuts....

  3. I did have an idea for a PLB to suggest, but now I'm just hungry. Thanks, guys.