The Garden in Winter

The Garden in Winter

Dom created this blog for me before we were married. It’s seen me through a lot of time. Beautiful times. Hard times. It’s hard to see it lying fallow, unused, like a garden in winter.

The last few years have been hard. But I don’t know that they have been any harder than other years when I wrote and wrote and wrote. It just feels like the season of The Wine Dark Sea has quietly slipped away from me. I grieve that writing here had come to feel more like a burden than a joy and that I let it slip away. I miss it. But not enough, yet, to make any promises about coming back to write here again. Maybe someday.

What do you do when you realize a season of life has come to an end? I don’t want to let it go. But clearly it’s gone and left me. I feel baffled. I want to want to blog. But it’s dryness and anxiety and despair. What was once good isn’t anymore. The beautiful green creek of spring is now dried up in the heat of summer. What am I supposed to do?

Social media seems to be filling part of the void. It turns out that part of what I was craving was connection. In the glory days of blogging writing here was connection and life and community. And once things shifted and community was just not happening in blog world I turned to where I could find the connection I needed. Yes, I want to write longer pieces and to have a place to discuss ideas and I preferred the way blogs were that thing to the mess of Facebook. Yet. Yet.

I mourn for what is gone. But still, my willing it cannot make this blog the oasis it once was. The desert has taken over and no one is coming anymore. The routes have shifted, the traffic patterns have evolved. No one travels the old state route anymore now that the interstate highway lets them get there faster. Or something like that. I feel like my metaphors all fail because I’m still not sure what happened.

But I don’t want blogging to be a chore. And it was. So there we go.

You can stand in front of a house you once lived in and remember the happy times you had there, but you can’t live in it again. The shell doesn’t quite fit anymore. All you can do is sing elegies, mourn, and then return to the places where you live now. Close the door gently and turn out the lights.

Am I going to close up the blog permanently? I don’t know. It’s costing money to keep it here. Money we could honestly use to better purpose elsewhere. But I don’t want to tear it down. I want to leave it as a permanent memorial. And yet somehow that feels self-indulgent. Will anyone read this? Will anyone care? Will anyone even notice if this blog goes the way of the dodo?

Maybe I should try to see how a substack feels? To me so far it feels like a weird unwelcoming place whose rules I don’t quite understand, a dreamhouse whose corridors I can’t mentally map. I get lost. I don’t know where I am. I stumble about in the dark and occasionally find something I like. Am I getting too old for this?

Today, sick in bed on the day after Christmas I feel myself drawn to this space again. Drawn to filling a page with words. Yet I’m composing these words in Obsidian, my current place to store words, which only I can see. I used to compose in the web browser, dangerously hoping it would’t crash and lose my text. I used to spend time looking for photos to illustrate posts. Before the era of photos, though, there was the time of words. How many eras have passed under this roof?

And is the desire to fill up pages with words only one that can flourish during holiday? Once we resume school and the full, full, full daily merry-go-round, will I even have a desire to write anymore? Will I have energy or time even if I do want to?

The pandemic was an inflection point. Moving out of our house because of the flood was an inflection point. The mental health crisis of 2019 was an inflection point. I don’t know which was the tipping point. But I fear the moment of this blog is gone. Gone gone gone.

And maybe it isn’t coming back? I’d like to believe that spring will come again, but it’s a bleak January as I finish and post this and the world feels cold, cold. Snow on snow on snow. Water like a stone.

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  • I so feel this post and miss the days of blogging before social media – so much more fun and lighter! I keep blogging away, though less regularly than in the past, mostly because I print a book from my posts each year and it serves as our family scrapbook. I have mom guilt of blogging about the older kids and then potentially not blogging about the younger kids so that all of their memories are not recorded somewhere. You are still on my blog roll, and I will always read your posts (as a fellow Massachusetts-ian and Franciscan alum like Dom). Maybe just starting to write little by little will put you back in the mood? Kind of like exercise? You feel really good when it’s done and you want to keep having that feeling? I don’t know but I am hopeful 🙂

    • Thank you, Colleen. Previously, I’ve been hopeful that writing would beget more writing but it hasn’t happened in the past. I have ben writing privately, but nothing that I felt like publishing here. Still, it’s not impossible that things could shift. I can’t quite bring myself to be hopeful, but I appreciate your hope on my behalf.

  • Dear Melanie,
    if it is like this, then at least I am glad that I have met you here. If you come back, I will be also glad, but I think I understand what you are saying. Take care and God bless you.

  • So lovely to have this post, Melanie. I hear you and understand your complex blogging feelings completely. I began blogging in 2006, never had FB, and no IG until the pandemic! … how the online world has changed. So much has changed … I dog at it! Writing still, tho less, and without (for the most part!) the treasured comments. A few dear ones do leave a note now and then. When you write, I will read. Be well, dear Melanie.

  • I will miss you, and would follow you to a substack 🙂 but I totally understand the shift of season.

    I wonder if older-kid-time is a nadir for blogging, not only because of time but because of where mental energy gets devoted? Not to mention the need to respect the privacy of those bigger kids even and especially when their bigger problems are often what I am thinking about but can’t discuss with the internet… as opposed to discussing interesting non-kid things while dealing with little kid problems that are often physically exhausting but mentally undemanding.

    You will be in my prayers now and then even if you aren’t writing here – Godspeed to you and yours.

    • I do think that being in the big kid season is probably a part of it. My kids are 17, 15, 14, 12, and 11. And I do remember even in the height of blogging many of my favorite bloggers tended to get quieter during this phase of life. Days are so full. And that hit me in a new way over Christmas break– I think God was really revealing something to me. We took three weeks off and… I got so much done! All non-school stuff I’d been putting off. I was amazed at myself. Recently a professional who was working with one of my kids said to me that homeschooling five kids is like working two full time jobs. I’m used to brushing off statements like that; but… what if it’s true? It’s easy for me to discount how much mental energy it uses. Not to mention that I’ve not got several night owls who often want to come in and chat with me during what used to be my prime hours for writing. And often at the end of the day I just want to collapse, read a book, or watch a show. And when I do have a writing streak, it’s often been going to poetry which I’ve not been wanting to share in this space.

      I very much appreciate your prayer and your encouragement. Thank you so much!

  • If winter comes, can spring be far behind? Sometimes winter has seemed around 10 years long. But for me it’s shifted now, the children have fledged and I find my days quiet with time to read and think my own thoughts and explore new things. The loss of what was is a grief, and my words have dried up too.
    I loved your blog and miss it. I loved your poetry posts and conversations in the comments, and daily life with children. Your accounts of special trips- to the MFA, the White Mountains in NH, inspired trips for us when we were travelling. If you continue, I’ll always be a reader. God bless you and your family. You’re in my prayers.

  • I just found your blog and read “Flight into Egypt”. You wrote a beautiful piece and I continued to this post. I had to go back and saw the previous post was from 2017! I like reading blog posts, not quick social media bites. Whatever your decision, I want to thank you for taking the time to write!

  • I found your blog before I got married, about 15 years ago. It was always a source of inspiration as I had kids and homeschooled. Thank you for your stories.