Saturday, August 1, 2015

Meanwhile There Are Letters

In the spirit of saving mail from extinction, I share with you this letter from one friend to another.

To my dear friend,

Because we both simply showed up, hearts wide open, we began this friendship.  It's a funny story, isn't it?  Shared passions brought us together - making things, making life count, making a difference.

Being a friend didn't come naturally to me. I spent years hiding . . . but you sought me out and forgave me when I let you down.

And now we nurture our friendship with art and conversation through the mail. Sending letters and notes and greeting cards, we come to know each other bit by bit, a little at a time. How grand is this journey?!


You send me comic strips, pages from your daily devotional, articles and essays . . . things you know  I will love or things that remind you of me. I send you cards with my photographs, long-winded stories from my daily life (and drama), and ask for your advice and encouragement.

And sometimes we send each other little pieces of art, pieces of ourselves – a knitted coaster, a mixed-media card or booklet, a scrap of cherished fabric, a lavender sachet, a watercolor painting, a story, a photograph.


I know you and you know me. Really well. Because we correspond by mail. Thank you, sweetie pie!

As usual, I must recommend a new book for you. You know that I have long admired the writing and photography of Eudora Welty. A new book, out just this July, Meanwhile There Were Letters, chronicles the deep friendship between Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald. The friendship was fostered by hundreds of letters the two exchanged by mail.  The interesting thing is that these two only met in person a handful of times, yet they corresponded with great depth of feeling and vulnerability. Even though there lives were very different – she was famous for her short stories and novels about life in Mississippi and he was a California based mystery writer – they shared a common sensibility. This is much how I feel about you and I. Our correspondence, filled with the details of everyday life, bridges distance and time.  Hope you'll give this one a read.

Well, I really should get back to the work of the day.

Oh, almost forgot, I have a picture to share. Zinnias were Daddy's favorite flower. He planted them in the center of the front yard around the flag pole as his salute to summer. I can never pass zinnias without thinking of him. Stopped this week to take a few pictures of zinnias cascading along a fence near the library – sturdy and orderly, yet vibrant enough to put the other flowers to shame.


I do hope you are enjoying summer.  Have you been working in the garden? Has there been enough rain? Will you be canning tomatoes?  Send me new recipes, please! How's your latest class going? And what about the family? Tell me everything, in a very long letter, please.

Borrowing your closing – here's to wild gardens,  Donna

19 comments:

  1. Is there anything better than a nice newsy letter?

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    1. How right you are! A nice newsy letter makes me feel loved and truly a part of the other person's life. There is something about writing that helps us to process what we experience, and we often work through the worries of life just by sharing in this way.

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  2. How wonderful that you still communicate via the written letter! Thank you for sharing it with us ... I loved it! and aren't zinnias an amazing flower ... I adore your photos as usual.

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    1. Barb, You communicate with your beautiful newsletters from your blog - same principle - keeping in touch and sharing the news of our lives.

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  3. There is nothing like finding a "real" letter in the mailbox! And I love zinnias too--a contact of mine on Flickr posts the most beautiful photos featuring zinnias. I decided that this year I was going to plant lots and lots of zinnia seeds so that I would have zinnias to photograph. It seems that some sort of bug loves zinnias too so I have a few zinnias blossoming and have yet to take a photo of them!

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    1. Roxanne, I have the same problem - insects of some sort eat my zinnias down to the stems! Fortunately, there are other gardeners with better luck than me!

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  4. As usual, dear Donna, I read your post today with great pleasure… Thank you for sharing the most interesting subject on letters and correspondence. Wide subject on which to debate and share…
    First, I like to follow the links you give us and satisfy my wish to know more about the people you’re talking about… may even do a little research on Google to learn a little more…
    Trying then to gather what comes to my mind on the subject… losing myself in more and more articles on blogs, Wikipedia and so… and then… I realize one hour has been spent and I’ve been taken far away from the modest and simple comment I wished to leave on your blog!
    Consequently and to be short I’ll just let you know Donna how I like the pictures you posted today, the blue-grey-green tones of the two top pictures are so soothing… these images convey such a comfy and soft feeling of being so well at home reading a friend’s letter with a cup of tea and this handmade little woolen napkin (a gift from the same friend maybe?), and a few flowers from a walk outside on a summer day… such simple joys!
    The zinnias picture is so joyful, colorful, filled with a daughter’s love for her father… sun, color, warmth, laughs, joy and exuberance are the words which come to my mind when I look at your beautiful picture Donna!
    Enjoy a wonderful Sun-day Donna!

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    1. My sweet friend Odile, If ever there were a letter-writer, it is you. Your way with words (even with English as a second language) is amazing. I do believe it is your sincerity - which comes through to each person you address - that sets you apart. And yes, we both adore simple joys!

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  5. Just made my morning seeing your post. Always such a treat to see what you have been up to in photography. I will check out that book sounds like something I would enjoy. Your photographs, your words inspire. So lovely, truly a blessing.

    If you have Amazon Prime there are two movies that you might like. I watch these movies while on the treadmill to keep me going. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, and My Afternoons with Margueritte. The first is set in London and the second one is in Paris. You wonder why I watched these two? Well they are both about old ladies like me and two places I just visited but they have such heart warming stories behind them also..so good.

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    1. Barbara, Thank you so much for the movie recommendations. During the hot days of August, I love to curl up on the sofa and enjoy a good movie (complete with a little popcorn). I'll definitely look for both of these titles as they sound exactly in line with my taste. It's always a treat to have a visit with you!

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  6. I also forgot to say I love Zinnias also, so many layers and a gem to photograph. This was the first year I didn't plant them and now I am sorry. So many wonderful colors on a one plant.

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  7. I just love finding out more about you! Oh, snail mail...cards, postcards, letters...a woman after my heart! I know I'm probably the only one in my circle of friends that sees so much value in this act and I even have to remind myself to "up the game!" So wonderful that you've built this particular friendship this way. And speaking of snail mail...my Uppercase magazine arrived yesterday and I'm savoring all of those amazing stamps and lace! I feverishly looked for your article...loved it! So you. Thank you for reminding me of this magazine. Like I mentioned in a previous comment, the one time I ordered a long time ago it didn't speak to me. And now it does. Gotta love how we change over time! Love the posting, love the photography and love that zinnias bring you wonderful memories of your daddy. ♥ xo

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    1. Hi Robin! I've lost track of how many good ideas I've gotten from you . . . seems the least I could do is send you in search of a magazine. Truly, this relates to your recent post about looking for inspiration outside of photography. Magazines like Uppercase, that look at the broader scope of art and design, are just one more way to make our lives more interesting - and our pictures, too!.

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  8. Oh, my dear! You've touched on a desire of my heart! How blessed you are to have a pen pal. Only just this week I was thinking how wonderful it would be to have one again! Very few people write anymore. Thank you for sharing this - lovely images, as always. Have a blessed day!

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    1. June, The posts that you write about tending to nature's littlest ones, like birds, are your form of letter writing. You share with us your compassion and appreciation for nature and animals in a note that feels just like a letter. And if you want a pen pal, my bet is that friends would line up to exchange a letter or two with you - and I'd be in that line!

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  9. What a wonderful post..I did feel like I was sharing your life and that you were writing to only me...I had a contact like you on Flickr...a man. I didn't know until many years later that he was much older than me. He had a gift for making me feel so special, just in his comments on my page. I love his friendship and his inspiring words. He was one of the very first contacts I had when I first started on this journey called writing/photography. He never missed a photo of mine, nor did I miss his. He was magical in his posts only using a point and shoot and his comments gave me, as a newbie, the courage I needed to move on in this wonderful world. Then one day I didn't hear from him. Before the week was out his son wrote on his page that he had died. He was fighting cancer for about 6 months but he never let on and never stopped commenting on my page...I sat at my desk and cried for him and for me. Little did I know but what soon became apparant was that he treated all of his contacts with the same respect and kind words that he shared with me. So many wrote on his page and left beautiful comments about him. He opened my eyes...to what being kind and awesome is all about. It is a gift we give if we can make everyone feel like the only one.
    Why do I tell you all of this Donna. It's because you remind me a lot of him but in your own way.. Your writing is wonderful, your subject matter is timely and your gift for encouraging is sincere...yes, I would write you letters and send you things...but the world we live in today is so much more dis-organized that even a few years ago. What I do know, is that you are a wonderful friend...right here, right now.
    Thank you for this great post...now I must go and look up your favorite author. That's a gift also...someone new to read.
    Have a beautiful week...my friend.

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    1. Cheryl, I've written a little note directly to you - but I'll reply here as well. Thank you for sharing this story from your blogging life that touches my heart and lets me see that little things really do matter. Every comment from you feels like its own little letter, and I thank you!

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  10. It is comforting to see you are still writing letters that go out in the postal mail, and strengthening a friendship. These days when I get a piece of real mail I want to save it even if it is just a small note with family or friend's handwriting. I've learned to really cherish handwritten notes...that script tells so much about a person, especially after they are gone. The zinnia picture is more than beautiful, because of it's reminder to you of your daddy's love for those flowers...I love how he says "they salute summer"! That is awesome. I LOVE your knitted mug coaster! Very clever indeed. I've read this post numerous times before I commented, just because I enjoy reading your thoughts, and how you enjoy life, a simple life. You remind us there are more important things to cherish than some of the things we pile on our life so readily. And yes, we have had plenty of rain. It's August, and nothing is dry and toasted, yet. Happy week my friend!

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    1. Beverly, I wonder if you know we've been talking about you . . . Odile and I sent a few notes back and forth and both agreed that your kindness has helped us both to feel more confident and encouraged us in many ways. I cherish your comments, just as a handwritten note, so happy for the interaction. I'm really enjoying seeing your photographs on Instagram, too!

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