Rocks, early May, Canfield Woods, Deep River, Connecticut. These have nothing to do with the fan mail, but I like them.

I received a fan letter today—a card, with a painting of Lady’s slippers or a similar wildflower on the front, handwritten, mailed via the U.S. Postal Service— from a writer whose work I admire. She was reacting to my column, “The Long Way Home,” in Appalachia. “The last sentence of your most recent one knocked me right out. They’re such a pleasure to read!”

I don’t have to say it, but this certainly made my day.

Words like this send me back to those difficult paragraphs I’m revising. Fan mail grabs me by the fingers and pulls verbs out of nowhere, sends me to the land of my brain where the real ideas fester before they flourish. Just a simple card that said she liked all of my columns, too. The production manager of the Appalachian Mountain Club, where the note arrived in late March, tucked this card in with a shipment of mail and books to my Connecticut office. And so an ordinary May late-afternoon shifted into a good one. The pink buds on some tree I can’t identify by my office window have sharpened into beautiful relief.

Share This