I have been writing this blog since 2007. That is an amazing thought! In that time I have made lots of real and virtual friends and had a lot of fun with it. I have been to Chelsea and to the Malvern and Tatton RHS Shows. I have blogged about gardens and houses and cooking and had the occasional rant about consumerism and the way we bring up our children. I have blogged as often as three times a week, although generally my pattern has been to write a weekly blog. I have blogged with photographs and without and have found that the urge to write has been like an itch I need to scratch, a pleasurable itch, but the itch of a strong urge to connect and to find the words that make sense of my life.
So why do I feel that I am grinding to a halt, losing it, letting it drift away from me?
It is hard to put my finger on. At one level I very much do not want to stop. I love the connections I have made and I know my life would be poorer without them. Yet again and again I find that I do not sit down to write. I don't know what to say. In part that is a simple reflection of having blogged about my life for so long. You know that the daffodils come out in spring and that in May the cow parsley is in flower in the verges on the lane. Do you really have any interest in my telling you again? Partly it is a shift in what I am doing. For much of its life this blog has been about an obsessive interest in my garden and the attempt to create one out of a rough field half way up a hill. For the last two years I have lost the garden as the needs of my father and father in law, particularly the weekly six hundred mile round trip to Devon to try to support my father, have squeezed out the garden. There was only so much time and energy to go round and the garden had to be let go. It pained me but it was necessary. And now six months after my father died I have still not really reconnected. To do so seems to need more energy and commitment than I have. I am doing bits but I am also holding it at arm's length. I am too tired, too battered. At the moment I can't do it in the way which I have done.
And I suppose that is at the heart of the matter. Before my father became ill and my mother died it was very clear to me what this blog was for: it was to celebrate the beauty of this place, to record the progress of the garden, to celebrate times with family and friends. It was not for personal disclosure. It was a public platform on which I always tried to speak honestly but it was not a place where I wrote about the intimate or the personal. I found I could not keep entirely silent when seismic changes rocked our world so I did write briefly about the serious stroke which disabled my brother five and a half years ago and I did write a tribute to both my mother and my father when they died. I think any reader would know the outline of the huge shocks which have rocked my family. But there was much that did not make it onto the blog, particularly over the last couple of years as Dad's Motor Neurone Disease took hold.
Now I do not know what the blog is for any longer, perhaps because I myself am still a bit adrift. I feel very changed by the death of my parents and the events of the last couple of years. I still laugh and talk and drink wine and love good food. I still take deep pleasure in the time spent with the next generation, four of whom have arrived in the last two and a half years. I still read and knit and walk and watch property programmes on the TV. I still love spring and plants and being outside. So I would find it hard to explain to you what I mean by feeling that I am changed. I am very aware that we are now the oldest generation in our family: my mother called it being at the head of the queue. I am aware that the time that is left is much much shorter than the time which has passed. I don't find that difficult or depressing but it does make me think a lot about what I want to do with it. Nothing is more important than those relationships which have always been the core of my life but I find I want to do more looking out, going out, being out in the world. I want to travel a bit more, even if it is mainly in my own country. I want, I suppose, more adventure, even if those adventures are small ones.
And oddly I find that I cannot quite work out what I want to write about. This new life, feeling my way to how it works without the loving restrictions of the responsibilities to parents, still feels very tentative. I am doing a lot of things with my time, some of which I suspect might be simply diversions from those losses. At New Year I blogged about trying to build a year based on adventure and reflection. I am perhaps doing too much and reflecting too little but I also feel that I just need to live this year or so to find out how it works. Perhaps the time has come to use the blog as a place for the reflection when it the past it has been so much about practical, physical things?
What do you think? If I take fewer pictures of the garden and spend more time thinking about what I am doing and where it is taking me, looking at how and where I want to live, telling you about my adventures instead of just doing them, would that be too much of change in the contract between us, between writer and reader? I don't want to stop blogging but I may need to blog differently. It won't all be contemplative stuff - I am too easily distracted by a fine flower or a good bottle of wine. What do you think?