Forgotten pleasure

Every weekend since she’s gotten here, my mother has commented on how lucky I am to have the garden to return to after a week in the city. I had been looking at the whole arrangement differently, seeing it more as an exile from the garden. Last weekend, I decided to try on my mother’s way of looking at things instead, and found it much more agreeable. Thank heaven for optimists!
The mornings are cool now, about 8 C (high 40s F). The first thing we do is start a fire in the water heater and then head out to the kitchen to make coffee. On Saturday morning as I was carrying the coffee pot over to the kitchen, I came across a letter I’d received on Friday, sitting in the box if cloth diapers we’d brought along. It was actually better than just a letter; it was a surprise package with a letter inside: the mail trifecta. A dear friend had sent us a little wooden Christmas tree from Muji.

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I stood reading it and was instantly absorbed. For me, reading a hand written letter is completely immersive, a far more intimate experience than the typed word. And as I read it, I realized that although this was a letter from a very dear friend whom I have known for almost 20 years, this was the first time I had seen her handwriting. I felt I had somehow gotten to know her better in the moments that I has stood there, one hand still on the coffee pot, reading her letter.
It is of course literally an intimate experience to read or to write a letter. You hold one person on your mind and you can pour your heart out without fear of interruption, or you are the lucky recipient of such focused attention. Having taken up this blog as a form of wholesale correspondence, it seems an extravagantly generous act to write a letter (not to mention taking the trouble to post it). To think that we once performed these acts without a second thought; I have boxes of letters from my school days, some of them from only passing acquaintances that I struck up correspondence with. Here’s to the forgotten pleasure of a handwritten letter, and to being reminded of it.

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