The thing about blog gardening, the pruning, weeding, rearranging, cultivating, propagating and planting most of us do in our websites and blogs, is that no one else can make the hard decisions for you. One of the beauties of self publishing, of being your site’s owner, designer and chief gardener is the control it gives you. But along with that comes an overwhelming array of choices and decisions. Right now, I’m deciding whether to rip everything up, take cuttings and gather any seeds that shake lose or simply prune back old posts and do a gentle, gradual weeding.
But behind even the gentlest of weeding and pruning sessions is a decision, a question: what stays and why? For any kind of life laundry, clutter clearing or blog maintenance, we need a toolbox of questions.
What’s useful? What’s beautiful in its own right? What feeds the soul? What needs to go for the sake of health? Is there anything that evokes memories so precious that to remove them would feel like destroying the folk whose essence, whose presence created them? Do those same memories tether us to sadness, to a past that’s gone and not enriching the present?
In my real garden, I have evergreen trees, scented mediterranean shrubs and herbs, flowering perennials and weed-supressing ground cover plants. They grow slowly, but I like the structure, the predictability, the privacy, the seasonal flowers and berries. I adore the birds that flit through the branches, their fleeting lives reminding me to capture moments without holding on too tightly. I rarely plant annuals in my actual garden; I get sad when their season is over and I have to rip up the withered plants. But I do like seasonal flowers in containers; old broken teapots and jugs, mini wooden barrels, old olive oil cans full of red geraniums and fragrant sweet peas. I like the flexibility of being able to move them around, like words in a poem, notes in a piece of music, delighting in the unexpected combinations of colours, cadences, heights and shapes that take on a life of their own.
Knowing that about myself, knowing my values and needs and how I want to feel makes any kind of designing and decision making easier. After three years away, I have this one chance to view my blog – and the blogging, online world in general – with fresh eyes.
The first day I logged back on, I loved the bright welcome I got from my tulips, a moment captured one sunny day at my kitchen window. I thought how sad I would be to see them go if I upgrade the mechanics of my blog and have to create a new banner. In a blogging world where niche, ‘useful’ content, advertising, marketing and message broadcasting reign supreme, I still value the feel of blogs I visit, the pleasure or fun, empathy or companionship I get there, whether I’m seen as a potential customer or not. I still love the tone my tulips create, the welcome they provide, the message they gently radiate… “Make yourself at home… How can I support you?” Even if I’m the only one here to appreciate them.
As I make bonfires of worn out dreams, dead links and dated posts, I’m strangely peaceful. This blog was always meant to be about sharing and self expression, about connection and supportive companionship, but it was me who walked off, neglected the folk who’d always supported me with kindness and uplifting words; me who let the weeds choke what was left of this once vibrant wee blog. I’m the only one who can decide what to do next. While I decide, I dig, I weed, I cherish, I let go – one word at a time.
Please believe me when I tell you how much I appreciate your visit here today. I’ve never called silent readers ‘lurkers’ like many bloggers do. I read stats; I know that folk read without commenting. I often do the same, and we all have our reasons. But you’re here today, reading this, and for that I’m grateful. My comments boxes may never be full of poetry, birdsong and bees again, but there’s peace, still, in the sharing of lives in quiet companionship, in silently watching the cloud shadows and dappled sunlight as the seasons unfold.