This has got to be the most ironic post title. Because after more than a decade of blogging at least every week, I kind of let the whole thing peter out until I was lucky to put up a post once every few months.
For someone who enjoyed chronicling almost everything that moved and every move I made in a pretty self-contained little life, why did I stop blogging at the point where I was going through two genuinely historic events. First, the great Sonoma wildfires of 2017. Secondly, the pandemic. Surely both events were worthy of a Mary Chesnut to chronicle them. Alas, that Mary Chesnut would not be me.
Not writing through the pandemic is easy for me to understand. I have been incredibly lucky that my life before the pandemic has kind of been one of semi-isolation up at the Rancho half the week. I didn’t have children I had to help learn remotely, I didn’t have a job I had to struggle with over Zoom or enter a potential disease vector area to perform. It was really the same as it ever was for me, and I felt embarrassed to parade my luck when so many were struggling. Besides, I’d rather read the stories of brave healthcare workers and the grocery clerks, sanitation workers, farmers, etc. who kept working at danger to themselves so the rest of us could hunker down. So I didn’t blog.
What’s less clear to me is why I didn’t chronicle our restoration of the land and the Rancho after the fires. Because, believe me, there was a lot of that. However, much of the heavy lifting was accomplished by Mother Nature thanks to some wet years following the fire. The land kind of healed itself while we repaired irrigation lines, electrical junction boxes, and replanted landscaping. Then there were both vineyards which didn’t burn but were cooked to death by the hot fiery winds. That put an end to winemaking for at least 5 years while our newly planted vines get to the point where they can produce usable grapes. All I can guess is that the whole restoration took place so slowly that for at least a year and a half it was uncertain (at least to me) that the land I loved and worked so hard on would ever resemble its former self. The good news is that, four years later, it does. In some cases, it’s looking even better. But I missed my chance to blog how it got there.
But here’s the thing about not blogging: looking back, I feel that not writing affected my thinking. The late great Joan Didion gave one of the best explanations of the joy of writing in her essay, Why I Write:
I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.Joan Didion
Not that any of my posts achieved any Didionesque perfection. But when I was actively blogging I found myself capturing moments in my head (or in the little writing notebook I carried everywhere) and reflecting on what that moment meant in the context of my day. Was it the most important thing that happened that day? Was it part of a pattern of events that happened that day or that week? How did it relate to other similar or dissimilar things that had occurred?
Again, I never achieved the Didionesque. More often I noticed weird juxtapositions. Like the time I wanted to chronicle a long evening of canning and ended up musing on the dangers of terriers and chimps.
In the end, it didn’t matter how I tried to bring some sort of order out of the randomness of my days and thoughts. The blog was for me. I never expected anyone else to read it and there are many many reasons why my blog will never make me famous. (Although, at one point, I had amassed a pretty steady readership, with a surprising number coming from Eastern Europe.) Besides, if I really want to be famous, I should be vlogging on a YouTube channel or putting short bits up on TikTok. While I occasionally post to Instagram, my life is certainly not Instagram-ready. (Maybe because so many of my Rancho pictures seem to focus on wild animal poo and the remains of large predators’ dinners).
So I’ve decided in 2022, I’m going to pick up blogging again. You are welcome to come along.