When I started blogging in the spring of 2009 — well over a year ago — the idea that drove me was a simple one. I wanted to write about my attempt to live sustainably and honestly and with integrity on this little patch of suburban soil within the city limits of Seattle. I remember this very clearly because I remember that it was in looking at someone’s blog about their gardening year that it first occurred to me that I could do that same thing, and that I might have something worthwhile to say.
That’s not what really ended up happening.
There were a few entries early on about growing peas and beans and pumpkins, and some touching on the larger themes of community and traditions, and of the causes of localness and sustainability and continuity that, for me, give purpose to my urban farming efforts and our family traditions in the first place. But almost before I started blogging the idea of what I wanted to write started changing. The first deviation from the direction I’d set out on was a move, a deliberate one, to include memories of my own family life so that my daughter Mara would have a detailed record of them someday if and when she became interested. I found pretty quickly that there was not very much to tell about the vegetables once I got them in the ground, unless I wanted to be addressing an audience keen on the specifics of soil amendment and soil temperature and the reasons behind the choice of one variety of runner bean over another — an audience I didn’t have. By contrast, there was an audience — some friends and family — ready and waiting to hear what I remembered about events and developments in my own life and, perhaps more significantly, how I view those events and developments now.
This led to posts about my current family life, the adventures that my wife and daughter go on and the ways that all of us are enriched by that time spent together. By then my blog was rapidly approaching a dangerous dilution of focus, but I was having so much fun. And so, it seemed, were you readers. Together we shot past all the exit signs.
What I was unable to anticipate was how much of my blogging would be driven by these family outings, or by my walks around the downtown during my lunch break. I started taking a camera with me everywhere, and what I captured through the lens has often dictated what I would write about and how I would write. For that matter, I must own that a lot of what determines whether something gets blogged about is the availability of accompanying photos, because I’ve endeavored from the beginning to supply plentiful images of good quality and high interest as a way of compensating my readers for their willingness to bushwhack (“schwack” as Kip and Jeff and I used to say on hikes) through my intentionally web-hostile prose. I’ve often rued having lost or gotten rid of so many of my old photographs. I’ll see one very clearly in my mind and think of some wonderful writing I could do around it, and then realize that I don’t have it anymore.
The increasing length of my pieces almost from the start is another matter. I had intended to blog every day or every other day even if it was just a line or two, but I settled quickly into a pattern of longer, more reflective pieces every three or four or five days, and eventually this changed to even longer pieces at a rate of about one a week.
In all these ways my original charter has been much abused. My blog just up and became about something else or something more, and even though I am the sole author of each post it seemed as though some other creation was trying to get out of me through it. This should not have been a surprise; so many things that you could use as metaphors are just like that — a dinner party, a documentary, a painting, the plans we make to become parents, a day of chores around the house. Sometimes on a journey by sea there come winds that blow you in directions you could not have foreseen. Even Uncle Bill’s ranch was always becoming something new and probably something other than what he intended despite the iron hand of his program direction. Things become what they are meant to be, and sometimes the best we can do with our own creations is ride along.
So when I look at my original About page, which I’ve left in place alongside this new one, I feel a little as though I’ve absconded with investors’ funds. I only looked at it recently because it occurred to me that it’s one face shy of a family now and needed updating for that reason alone. But reading it made me realize how far I’ve strayed from my original purpose here.
Mind, no one has complained. But it seems good to be shooting toward something rather than just opening up a blank post and emptying my head into it, or simply writing fifteen-hundred-word captions to whatever photographs are handy. And the nature of my posts has changed, so let’s sync up and agree on an “as built”. (An as-built in the construction industry is a blueprint drawn up after a building is completed showing “what got built”, as opposed to the original plans, which show “what was supposed to have been built”.)
Here is what I think I’m doing: I’m trying to draw connections between physical — even mundane — aspects of human experience and spiritual things, “spiritual” being loosely defined as of or pertaining to the ways God touches us and the ways we touch each other as creatures made in God’s image. (If this surprises you, it means I’ve been failing abysmally.) Truthfully, though, sometimes I’m just presenting for your consideration whatever nutty thing I’ve discovered in the world.
The posts will probably get even less frequent (if you don’t feel like checking for posts, you can subscribe by clicking RSS Entries at the bottom of any page, or here, and you’ll be notified by email when new pieces are published). They will remain long and inclusive of digression — I simply cannot apologize for that nor recant my assertion that the practice is in and of itself an absolute Good in the Platonic sense. Anyway it’s what I do. Eventually I will realize that I should be writing books — by hand, in ink — but for now, it’s long essays online. Hey, it’s free and has no advertisements.
Even though my life is completely contained in Seattle, I also reserve the right to keep writing about Ohio until I get it out of my system.
I will continue to shamelessly use my interactions with my wife and two daughters for inspiration (and also to shamelessly split infinitives).
That should cover just about anything I need to do here. Off we go then. If you get a bee in your bonnet about any of this, the comments are open.