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Birthday Beastie

September 1, 2010

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!

24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2010 2:58 am

    Oh goody, I am first to comment!!
    Here I am, finally getting caught up on your summer posts (I know I have been a bit absent of late, sorry). Powder puff dipped sheep, indeed!
    So congratulations on your first blogiversary.

    I love, love, Colin Baxter – much to my photographer cousin-in-law’s disgust.

    My favourite time of year is approaching. I love autumn for the crisper air, the sharper nighttime skies with the stars just a bit closer and a bit clearer, the colours, the warm sweaters. (I know that is four) And I will love it even more this year after the hellishly hot, humid and smoggy summer we have had. I long for a bit of chill in the air with a bright sun that warms you up just enough. The blue skies and the brilliant oranges and reds of the leaves. I enjoy every minute of it, like a last hurrah, knowing that once the leaves have all gone it will be dull and drab and muddy and cold and miserable.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 1, 2010 9:49 am

      Welcome back, Violet Sky! Well, you’ve set the bar pretty high with that persuasive defence of Autumn. I can’t say that we shared your summer weather, but I share your love of the fall of the year nonetheless.

  2. Lizzie permalink
    September 1, 2010 9:20 am

    Congratulations – you write a lovely blog, and long may you continue.
    My favourite season has to be spring – for the promise of renewed life. Specifically the fresh limey green of the new leaves, the foaming cow parsley and the beautifully precise may blossom.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 1, 2010 9:52 am

      Lizzie, how nice to hear from you, and thank you. Now you have reminded me of why I love spring too…I love the frothing white in the hedgerows too but yes, you are quite right, there is a lovely cut-out precision to hawthorn blossom which I’ve never appreciated until your mentioning it.

  3. Mary Carver-Stiehler permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:35 am

    A very Happy First Birthday!!! From on the coast in Camden, Maine, USA 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 2, 2010 5:20 pm

      Thank you, Mary!

  4. Deb permalink
    September 1, 2010 8:33 pm

    What a wonderful year of posts! Thank you so much for so eloquently sharing your thoughts. I’ve really enjoyed reading – here’s to many more! My favorite time of year is summer (this has nothing to do with being a teacher). I love warm mornings when I can eat breakfast outside and watch the birds, being surrounded by all shades of green, and sitting in the shade of the porch and knitting in the afternoons. Now school has started and all this must be abandoned, but it was great while it lasted!

  5. September 1, 2010 9:48 pm

    Congratulations! I too find “blogging” a creative outlet. I love the small window on your world – keep it up!

    Now – my favourite season – Spring! My spirit mirrors the Spring, coming out of the long dark winter months. My heart leaps with joy at the daffodils bravely facing the Orkney gales that continue to batter the land well into May; the softness of the fluffy buds bursting forth from the apparently dead wood of the willows; the island clothing herself in a fresh bright green that catches the eye and the breath; the air filling with the sound of migrating birds returning, their calls still on the air after dusk falls; the warmth of the sun on my upturned face bringing promise of summer to come; my spirit echoes the plants in the garden as they push up through the earth that has sheltered them through the winter, and I dance with them in the sun, the wind and the rain because Winter is over for another year!

  6. sue permalink
    September 2, 2010 2:14 pm

    I think winter is my favourite season : snow – it makes everywhere look so beautiful, light, and quiet; next thing would be knitting – making and wearing. I love beautiful fairisle patterns in soft muted colours and so associate these knits with winter. Last choice would be a real fire – sitting in front of, with a mug/glass of something nice, reading an Agatha Christie.
    Lovely idea for a giveaway.

  7. September 2, 2010 4:30 pm

    What, I only get to choose ONE season??? sigh….

    I’ll pick right now, this somewhat melancholy bridge between summer and autumn, for the golden grass on the hillsides, the piles of gorgeous vegetables at the farmer’s market, and the brilliant blue skies above.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 2, 2010 5:19 pm

      It is hard to choose just one, isn’t it? I am so enjoying reading what everyone loves about each season, and I am taken by the idea of this ‘in-between’ season as a choice.

      Sian, I love your description of an Orkney spring. Sue, that winter sounds idyllic; and Deb, your summer sounds wonderful!

      • September 3, 2010 8:11 pm

        As you say I think Jean has something there – the in-between seasons – oooh yes that’s a good time too. I’m just thinking we are slipping into Autumn and a beautiful warm sunny day appears, Summer giving us a bonus until she appears again next year!

  8. Avice permalink
    September 2, 2010 7:05 pm

    Late spring: Bobolinks chortling in the meadow across the road, the Chinese tree peonies in bloom against the barn-red house, bluebirds along the weathered split-rail fence in the orchard.

    Thank you for a lovely blog and for sharing Scotland (and thanks to Cornflower, too).

  9. September 3, 2010 10:12 am

    I have just come across your blog – I really connected with your post. It describes perfectly the reasons for which I am blogging too. Beautifully written.

  10. Wendy permalink
    September 3, 2010 11:13 pm

    Your blog is always so refreshing and informative! Happy blogging birthday – well done!
    My favourite season is winter which I know some people don’t really like, but we are in sunny Queensland and our winters are pretty mild. So I love the crispness of the air, our blue sky days and the chance to use our pot belly stove! I also love to cook more in winter and generally be outdoors more because I feel much more energetic. I think I might be more suited to Scotland eh? My grandfather was from Edinborough so maybe that explains it. Cheers.

  11. September 4, 2010 8:53 am

    Happy Anniversary – or is it birthday? I love reading about Scotland & one day I’ll visit it again. My favourite season is autumn. In Melbourne it means crisp mornings, making pots of lentil & veggie soup &, most importantly of all, the end of summer, my least favourite season.

  12. September 4, 2010 5:29 pm

    I am hunkered down in my kitchen sitting out the tail end of hurricane Earl which seems to have begun to move on now without leaving any damage in this area – I have many large trees around my little 190 year old house and nothing fell off them and onto me,thank goodness!
    Looking forward to the first cool dry day, feeling more energetic and less sticky and getting the fall quilt show I convene done and dusted the last weekend of this month – then I can move on with lots of winter projects.
    I would so love to have one of your lovely prizes – the CD appeals – I am a lover of celtic music, naturally of course, given my heritage and a new artist is always great.
    Happy First Anniversary!!

  13. Liz permalink
    September 4, 2010 7:34 pm

    Definitely Autumn: misty mornings, the smell of new pencils, autumn fruits plucked from the trees

  14. Barbara M. permalink
    September 6, 2010 1:36 am

    I’ve always loved autumn best. As a child, it was the beginning of the school year, and school was my refuge from the real world. I was a terribly shy child, but a very good student, so the classroom gave me a place to shine in what was otherwise a rather dim world. As an adult, I became a teacher, so my classroom was again the place of possibilities. I never knew which child would be the one to light up with joy, sharing my pleasure in a story or a poem or a piece of writing. And as a parent, I’ve always felt the start of the school year was the true New Year….. it is the true beginning, the time when everything is crisp and fresh and new starts can truly happen. January 1 seems a very artificial, arbitrary new milestone compared to the first thrilling day of school!

    Today was the most beautiful autumn day in New Hampshire, where I now live. I bought crisp new apples at a farm stand and hiked with my husband in the crisp, cool air. And I still feel the pull of new beginnings, as this is our first year here, and our first year of retirement. Another new opportunity for learning and growth.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, and the idea of pulling a name “out of a quaich” amuses me no end!

  15. September 7, 2010 4:20 pm

    My favourite season depends which country I am in
    back home in New Zealand it is summer: long days spent at the beach swimming in the crashing waves, climbing up the cliffs and sliding down the sand banks. Camping holidays with family and friends, waking up to the sounds of birds, walking down for a morning swim in the river. BBQ’s in the evening, with the meat sizzling, cold beers, crisp salad and someones home grown new potatoes.
    But here in the UK I love spring. Finally getting some sunlight! Beautiful flowers springing up from the ground and create a carpet of colour on the ground. That the flowers seem to change every few weeks. Gardens over flowing, plant boxes and hanging baskets in the streets, excitment and promise in the air.
    I love changing seasons and am always wishing for the next one, right now I c ant wait for autumn with the leaves falling off the trees and all the beautiful colours, the crispness of the air and being able to snuggle into warm blankets and curl up with a books. Each seaon holds new promise and new favourite activities to do.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      September 7, 2010 5:49 pm

      What wonderful descriptions of the seasons from each writer. Thank you. You remind me of what there is to appreciate at every time of the year, and I am glad to have persuaded a few quiet readers into joining in with comments!


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