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The Book of Buried Letters
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Oregon has always held a special magic, and that essence was alive and well in the early 1970s when a young Maren Muter buried a secret, hundreds of secrets, surrounded by the protective roots of old-growth pines.


Muter, who lived in Big Sur, California, received an email with a listing to her childhood home.


“I got in the car and drove 13 hours to Lake Oswego,” she said. “and called the real estate agent to schedule a showing. It was during the phone calls with the realtor that I found out her grandfather had actually built the home.”


At the attic door is when a realization hit Muter, “I bet there are still letters in there.” Letters she had written by moonlight or behind the closed doors. Poetry, predictions, and theories flowed from thought to paper and then were hidden from the world in glass jars, or in the case of the attic, stuffed between the brick of the chimney and the rafters.


Muter retrieved the letters.    

The letters found in the attic were the most recent addition to a two-year hunt that spanned from Oregon to California. Where Muter, armed with a metal detector and spade, unearthed a cache of buried treasure.


“I was never really expecting to find or read these letters again,” Muter said. “It’s the life of a little girl who lived and moved in her own private world.”


The floor in her California residence has been covered with hundreds of letters – sallow from 40 years in subterranean keep.


Over an evening dinner, Maren shared her findings with her friends in the Big Sur community. The idea was for it to be light and fun, a glimpse into her childhood musing. The response was not at all what she expected.


The people she shared it with invited their friends – who in turn wanted to invite others. Her writing was a source of spiritual convalescence: an access point to a child’s sense of oneness most people lose with age. The journal entries read as poems, and the poems as feelings lost.


 The letters not only have opened a window back into the life of this little girl but have allowed others to take a similar journey.


She chose to compile the writings, and make them available in the form of a book. The initial chapters of which are written as the narrative of a little girl who communicates to the Flower Lady via buried letters. The same letters Muter dug up 40 years later.    


“Part of that world still resides within my soul and plays as if not a day has passed,” she said.      


“It truly was a wrinkle in time,” she said. “For a moment I was 8 years old, and the weather outside pattered on the roof and the chimney warmed my hand. At once I seemed to be me touching the little girl’s hand as my own. It was very surreal.”


The next day, the real estate agent called Muter and asked if she’d return to tell the current homeowner her story.


“We had coffee and lemonade and talked about the house,” Muter said. “There was only a handful of families had ever lived in that house. It was really cool. We were all laughing sharing our stories. And that’s when the buried letters came up.”


The homeowner wondered if other letters remained hidden.


“I told her I played in the room at the end of the attic,” Muter said. “The one that was like a hidden room. She and I went on an adventure, crawling through the dark attic with flashlights to hunt for letters. We found seven more.”


She took the letters with her and returned to California.