Today it is exactly a year since I took my first tentative steps into the world of blogging. Since then, my posts have got longer and my photos have got bigger (if not better), but the content has stayed essentially the same: observations on the turning of the seasons and the beauty of our corner of rural Scotland, with the odd bit of family life creeping in and the occasional snippet about the peculiarities of living in a castle.
I suppose that most of us who write – whether amateur or professional – begin to do so, as I did, out of some inner need. One writes primarily for one’s own sanity, just as an artist paints. The quality of the end product is (I’m afraid) irrelevant to this urge. For me, the writing and photography involved in a blog have given me a creative outlet that was lacking hitherto. They bring me great satisfaction, even when I’m not satisfied with the end product, if you see what I mean. Each post is like setting yourself a little mental exercise. You choose a subject and see where it takes you. With my butterfly mind, even the simplest little post can lead me down all sorts of interesting avenues of thought before I edit it down to a few words. Take, for example, a post I wrote about apple blossom back in May.
Thinking about apple trees led me to thinking about the Book of Genesis, Greek mythology, pagan magic, feminism, historiography, garden history and Shakespeare’s sonnets, amongst other topics. Thus, by the time a post is finished, I have had a proper little cerebral excursion from daily trivia. Most of the fluff that fills my head these days is along the lines of ‘what am I going to cook for dinner’, ‘will that load of washing be ready to hang up yet’, ‘it’s suspiciously quiet/ horrendously noisy, what are the boys up to now’ etc. Topics like that fill up the time and are important at a family level, but let’s face it, they are head-smackingly boring. Blogging is a way of gently stretching intellectual muscles that might otherwise atrophy in the swirl of family life.
So I write because I want to. Where does that leave the reader? Ah, well, I don’t know what you think, but for me the readers are one of the best things about blogging. One could be scribbling in a notebook and hiding it under the mattress, after all. Publishing a blog is like putting a message in a bottle: anyone might pick it up, or no-one, but the writer wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t hope to be read by someone. It’s the human need for connection, I suppose. I love it that we can connect at some level with each other all across the world, making friends of strangers and finding fascinating differences or common ground.
In celebration of these connections, on Dancing Beastie’s first birthday, I would like to offer a ‘birthday’ present to you. Any giveaways from here on in will be more modest affairs, but today I’d like to offer something rather special. If you’d like a chance to win, please leave a comment below this post, telling us three things about your favourite season of the year. (Friends and family, you can enter too!) For example, my favourite at the moment would be autumn: crisp mornings; wood fires; cooking comfort food. The winner will be drawn out of the proverbial hat (or quaich) next Friday, the 10th of September, and can choose one of two presents. The first is a small ‘coffee table’ book of beautiful photographs of Scotland by Colin Baxter. If you know Scotland, you will enjoy re-visiting happy memories through it: if you don’t, then I guarantee that this book will whet your appetite to visit.
The alternative choice of present is a CD by our local megastar of traditional music, Dougie MacLean. ‘Perthshire Amber’ is a wonderful celebration of the county and the season in music. You can hear a short extract on YouTube by clicking here.
As you can see from the photos, either choice of present will come with a wee pack of seeds, so that you can try to grow your own Scots pine tree. I can’t promise that they will germinate, but I had to include something tree-related! And finally I’ll chuck in a small pack of Dancing Beastie postcards. Two runners-up will each receive a pack of the pine seeds – assuming that such things are allowed through international post, that is.
Thank you for reading; thank you for commenting; thank you for your support. Here’s to the next year in the blogosphere!