I think the time's come to bow out here, at least for a while.
I didn't think I'd do this, that I'd presumably do what so many old friends and better bloggers have done before, simply fade away without a fuss, occasionally dropping back to leave a word or a picture, but I think I need to make some kind of a clear decision, say it out loud and stick to it. It's not easy and feels a bit dramatic and portentous; Box Elder has been my companion and an important dimension of my life, for over ten years now, even as my relationship with it and the people who come here has changed and evolved.
The reasons are several. This blog used to serve as a means for friends and family to keep up with our news, which I don't get the impression it is any more. From a creative point of view, I rather sense I've run out of steam; the drive to write to make poems and take photos finally faded away a couple of years ago, but perhaps that doesn't matter too much, and needn't stop me posting in a chatty way. The sometimes almost oppressive need to 'feed the blog monster' which was part of the activity in early days hasn't had any real hold for a long time, though there is always the slight nagging 'I haven't blogged lately, I suppose I should...'. But it's not much trouble to post something now and then, I hope in a reasonably well-written and amusing way, about Elfie or knitting or what we've had to eat, but my doubts as to whether there's any point in doing so have reached a critical point, and that's the chief rub.
Repetition always stalked this medium; whatever you blog about, after a time there's a limit to what you can post on that you haven't before, especially when it's mostly the domestic detail. But also I'm afraid I'm giving in, at least for the moment, to the weight and darkness of the world outside. I feel somewhat uncomfortable writing like this, which is another indication that I think I'd prefer to shut up for a while; it seems to me that the world events of the last year, and even more those which I fear are to come, need a response I find myself unable to give them, at least not here. Fluffy stuff won't do any more, and I can't get away from a sense that in more and more places I go on-line there is spreading toxicity, anger, mistrust, self-importance and bitterness that are leaving me feeling depressed and powerless either to heal or to ignore. There may well be good and brave and healthy things afoot too, and I wish well to those who are at work on them. I suppose it is a kind of spasm the world is going through, something inevitable, needful even, but I feel I have to detach from it. It may be copping out, the sin of despair, being a precious snowflake, whatever, but to avoid the damage I feel it's doing, and just to be useful to myself and the people I care about, I need to back away.
That said, I trust I'll keep such friendships as want to be kept; I intend to go on frequenting other blogs and showing up in comments boxes sometimes; in truth I've felt for a while now that what I've written in the comments threads of one or two other people's blogs has been of more worth and interest than most of what I put here, which might say something of the unsatisfactory relationship between me and my blog these days. (In fact, I'll probably spend a bit of time hanging out here in the archives, some of the stuff I've done wasn't half-bad...). I'll go on using and visiting other on-line places like Ravelry, Pinterest, the épagneul breton discussion forum... But perhaps I need to redirect my time and energies somewhat.
Since the fire I've felt a great need to make changes; this has been put on hold rather over this period of winter suspension, but simply on a personal level I know the coming time is going to place a lot of demands, mental, physical and spiritual, if you will. We have been made vulnerable and aware of the contingent and fragile nature of our being here. This isn't necessarily any bad thing, but combined with the sense of foreboding that world events are imposing, it takes its toll and has to be managed. There are things I can't afford.
The changes can be positive too, though. I'm quite interested to know what it will be like no longer to be a person who has a sense of obligation to blog. I hope that in a year or two, the plans I feel I need to concentrate on will be coming to fruition, perhaps even the world will look like a somewhat brighter and less threatening place, who knows, and I may feel like writing and photographing and making something of life again through this medium. I won't make the mistake of saying I'm stopping for good. I may also feel moved to share things from elsewhere here, since I don't do facebook or google plus or anything, but we'll see.
I can't express enough how much I've appreciated everything that blogging has brought, the joy and catharsis of posting and even more the friendship and support I've had from you who come and read and comment, in good times and bad; how comforting you've been in the loss of loved ones, times of illness and anxiety, how helpful it has been to write about the things like the fire and to receive your kindness and sympathy and useful responses; I can't imagine having been through those experiences without them. And indeed, the encouragement and praise and joy when I've produced something good here. Thanks and thanks again.