WHIDBEY ISLAND — I’m zipping along a rural stretch of Highway 525 toward Greenbank when, all of a sudden, I see a flash of pink by the side of the road.
It’s a … uh, pretty mailbox?
But wait, there’s more to it.
On the side, black letters spell out: “Love Letters Only.”
What’s up with that?
Just what it says: it’s a mail box for love letters.
For real. People really do leave love letters.
Most people don’t know who the pink mailbox belongs to. There aren’t any houses in sight. They just know, somehow, to put love letters in it.
With the help of some savvy island sleuths, I tracked down the owner, Stacy Anderson. She lives down a lane off the highway on an organic farm with a herd of bossy Nubian goats.
“The love letters are not addressed to me,” Anderson said. “It’s just whatever they feel like expressing. They have unfinished business with a relationship or they just think it is so fun and want to put something in it.”
Anderson saves every letter. Some are on crisp paper, some are crumpled.
“I find it written on the backs of wrappers because that’s all somebody had in their pocket as they passed,” she said.
“A woman left a cute little glass bottle with a message in it that she had been a Whidbey resident and that she was moving and it was her last day on the island and the mailbox was one of the things she really got a kick out of and would miss.”
So, what’s the story here?
“Where it came up was, I have five daughters and I was a single mom with them for a long time,” Anderson said, “and I would get bills and my joke was, ‘I’m so tired of bills. I don’t want to get bills. I just want love letters.’”
For years, it stayed a family joke.
She remarried a man with two daughters and they moved here 13 years ago from California.
One day about five years ago, her daughters, who now range in age from 23 to 36, surprised her.
“They took the mailbox off the highway and brought it to the farm and they sprayed it and they tried to use stencils to try to make it look pretty but ended up kind of hand drawing it. They said, ‘We apologize. It looks kind of punk rock, Mom.’”
It didn’t end there.
She was later surprised again by the touches of an artist friend, Natalie Hahn, who attached dangling glass and metal ornaments on the mailbox post. Hahn made seven baubles, one for each daughter in the family.
It was a working mailbox until about six months ago.
“Unfortunately, an unprotected mailbox on the highway, we were starting to get mail theft,” said Anderson, who now has their regular mail sent to a PO box.
So now the pink mailbox truly is for love letters only. She checks it several times a month.
Anderson could write a love letter about her life on the island, where they came to escape from a life of cubicles.
“We moved up here to change our lives. We were in Silicon valley in California and just doing the corporate grind,” she said.
“We moved up to Whidbey to do something different and kind of fell into this, making goat milk soap. I had a daughter with really bad eczema and I wanted to try to make something for her. Living up here gave me the freedom to think about that and research it and get going.”
The lotions, serums, rubs and soaps made with the milk from the bossy goats and the greenhouse are sold nationwide under the name The Fay Farm. Check it out at thefayfarm.com.