In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Epistolary friendship

We don't have too many friends on the island, at least not this time of year. Last winter we had about half a dozen visits between mid December and May, and most of those were Skipper and Radar getting us out of some jam or other.

But it turns out we can have friendships in spite of our insularity. I had admired Carla Allen's gardening column in the local papers and when I quoted her on seaweed I sent her a link. That's like making a call on someone in nineteenth century England and leaving your card. Carla returned the email and sent me the link to her new blog, which is quirky and enchanting and gives the reader a feel for the strangeness and the beauty which is southwestern Nova Scotia. You, dear reader, can find it here. We agreed to be each other's followers, which sounds vaguely cultish.

An epistolary friendship is different from the kind of friendship where you do things together and share experiences and enjoy each other's company. Instead of getting all that, you learn about someone's interior self. You understand more about their ways of thinking and expression, of how they see the world. You get to know them as reflective people even if you don't exactly know what they look like. Something's missing, of course -- the physical person -- but something's gained, too.It's a different kind of friendship, one to appreciate.

Epistolary friendships are in great resurgence now thanks to the internet. Only a few decades ago people were bemoaning the fact that there would be no more written record of ordinary daily life, since all communication was taking place on the phone. I guess we don't need to worry about that anymore.

Mary Cassatt, The Letter, 1890/1891

No comments: