The Art of Letter Writing

The Art of Letter Writing

While in the summertime it seems easy to explore a multitude of activities, the wintertime provides the space for quieter activities, new hobbies, or creative outlets that encourage reflection. The intense winter storms and their impact on travel keep us inside to discover new activities or pastimes. Winter days feel quiet and reflective as our time indoors beckons us to think more about how to spend our time intentionally.

When was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter to someone? In the age of quick text messaging, instant emails and continuous communication, letter writing is beginning to feel like a lost art.  Take paper (maybe made locally by Crane & Co.) and pen, and set time aside to write a letter to a friend, family member, or neighbor.  Particularly when the weather is ferocious outside and a Nor’easter is upon us, seize the opportunity to sit down with pen, paper, and the backdrop of falling snow to compose a multi-page letter.  Unlike computer keyboards, there is no backspace key or delete function.  It’s the chance to move slowly, choosing words carefully and with care; to meditate on what you want to want to communicate.  Letter writing connects people and lets the recipient hold onto the letter as a keepsake. The art of letter writing can preserve a fond memory or anecdote. It can be  a record of friendship.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Silence of Snow: Meditation & Mindfulness

Silence of Snow: Peaceful Places

Snow can make you feel as though the world has stopped around you.  During snowstorms, travel is suspended, and, for a day or two, the quiet of the outdoors reminds us to simply enjoy the moment and to be mindful.

Meditation is a practice in which awareness is focused on the present moment.  There are many different ways to meditate and be mindful of the present moment.   It’s something you can practice in any space and at any time.  The rhythm of snow falling and the slower pace of winter provide a contemplative setting for the practice of slowing down in order to focus on the moment.

Additionally, as the season of giving thanks has ended, wintertime is now an occasion to set the year’s intentions and reflect.  Traditionally, intentions are set on New Year’s Eve; however, the pensive nature and silent voice of winter provide the atmosphere to connect with your inner self and meditate on personal intentions.

Curious to explore mindfulness and meditation? In Western Massachusetts there are many community-based resources and spaces for people to learn about and practice mindfulness: Read the rest of this entry »

Local Literary Musings: A Winter Piece

Local Literary Musings:
William Cullen Bryant’s A Winter Piece

Remember Cummington native William Cullen Bryant, who was featured in the Sept/Oct 2016 edition of Learning Ahead? After a career in New York, Bryant returned to his childhood home in Cummington when he was 71. Bryant’s early poetry is very much influenced by the landscape of the Western Massachusetts Hilltowns of his youth. In fact, Bryant’s A Winter Piece is a reflection on this time of year.  Even though the summer is gone, Bryant notes in his poem how winter has an unexpected beauty that is still marvelous to behold.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sense of Place: Winter Stillness

Think about this:

What activities or hobbies are you interested in pursuing during the winter months? Have these interests changed over the years? Why?

How can you incorporate a mindful practice into your daily winter routine? How does the stillness of winter support a meditation practice?

What types of skill sharing do you think happened in early New England during the winter months?  What pastimes or skills were passed down from generation to generation?

When was cursive handwriting first developed? Is it still taught in school?

How much was the first postage stamp in the United States? What is the origin and history behind the postage stamp?


Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

 

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