A funny thing happened on the way to this post.
I thought I would write about my Christmas wish list — you know, wishing it was warmer, wishing I could plant some seeds — that sort of thing. At least, that was my plan until I opened up my comments awaiting approval, where I read the urgent request of The Last Leaf Gardener (TLLG), a gardener based in New York City. She was worried about the health and well-being of another blogger, Patrick of Patrick’s Garden.
TLLG had posted a comment on Patrick’s site but hadn’t heard from him. When she tried to phone him, she learned that the phone was not in service. Concerned, she contacted me because I was the last person to have posted a comment on Patrick’s Garden and to have him respond to me.
I wrote back to TLLG. No, I typed, I don’t know anything about Patrick — but if I do hear of anything, I will contact her.
The truth is, I did know a bit about Patrick because of his posts — but that was it. I had never met him or spoken to him. All we shared were a handful of comments on one another’s blogs. So why was I now so worried? Why should I worry about someone I’ve never met, about someone where our only interaction had been type-written words? And that’s when the lightbulb lit up. I’ve read his words — not only about gardening, but about his life and all that he does. He’s in Kansas and I’m in New York — but once we learn so much about each other in this personal-but-impersonal blogosphere, doesn’t that make us neighbors of a sort? As gardeners, as bloggers, as people — aren’t we members of a community?
I too called the number on his blog, but it was out of service, just like TLLG indicated. Next stop, Google. I managed to find another number.
“Hello,” I said. “I’m hoping you can help me. I’m calling from New York, and I’m trying to reach someone named Patrick. . . His last name? No, I don’t know a last name, but he gardens and he’s a blogger.” For a moment, I think I sounded a bit looney. For another moment, I worried that I was completely overstepping some sort of boundary of appropriateness.
Within a few moments, I was connected to the man behind Patrick’s Garden. The truth is, he’s doing fine — but some technical issues kept him from his blog. And as for my believing I was out of bounds, nothing could have been further from the truth. Patrick was impressed/flattered that a stranger had checked on him — but once we have read about each other, are we truly strangers?
It was a great conversation. Suddenly, we were real. We were the voices behind the typed words, talking about the weather and gardening and garden centers and gardening pet peeves — you know, shop talk. Gardener to gardener. Blogger to blogger.
Neighbor to neighbor.