Tuesday, December 6, 2011

30k - Just a Number, Words and Wonder

Fall morning showdown between bucks at the Newt Spring.
The wonder of it all.
In a few days, the Dipper Ranch blog will reach 30,000 hits since May 2009 (2.5 years).  I actually started blogging in October 2008 but I think I didn't rig up the simple version of Google Analytics until later.  I am not sure how significant 30k hits is.  I know that at least one blog I follow probably gets that many hits in a day, and many things on the internet are popular but not so useful.  I guess I could look into it, but I would rather spend the time researching cool season grasses.

Anyway, I am taking it as a message that I should keep writing and sharing.  I have noticed my writing and powers of observation have improved in the last 3 years.  Certainly due to the daily practice of writing, researching and editing, but also because the writing process itself reveals links and patterns I might not otherwise have considered. Great comments from readers give me new sources and insights, and I'm starting to develop a network of other bloggers who enrich my natural history knowledge.

I've noticed that over the last year or so, I've started to allow more of my personal thoughts to creep into my writing such as finding comfort from a kingsnake after a tragic death and reflecting on historical approaches to managing land.  To me, it feels authentic and harmonic to write this way, but I am not sure how well it works for readers.  A few people have told me offline what they think and I have used their advice to balance my writing.

I would appreciate hearing specific advice from you readers about what you like and what I should change about this blog.   Is the format of the site easy to read?  Can you find stuff?  Are there some topics that are more interesting than others?  Frequency and length of posts?  What about the quantity and quality of photos?  Do you like the small stories in the sidebar or are they distracting?  Is the tone comfortable?  What are blogs you recommend I check for style and techniques?  Are you frustrated that I haven't developed the Links page much?  Are there networks you recommend I join (currently, I only belong to the Nature Blog Network)?

I feel brazen in asking you this after you have spent your precious time reading my overly long posts, but if you consider this a joint journey, let me know what you think. And thanks!

Right now I am editing a post with photos of the lunar eclipse and a short story about autumn wildlife which I wrote for my niece's birthday.

Here's something a friend shared that captures my feelings of wonder at this moment:

There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it to-day. Take Heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!  The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look. Contessina I beseech you to look.  Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty: believe me, that angel’s hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Our joys, too: be not content with them as joys, they too conceal diviner gifts.  Life is so full of meaning and of purpose, so full of beauty—beneath its covering—that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then to claim it: that is all! But courage you have; and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.  And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

~ attributed to and translated from Giovanni Giocondo, A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia degli Aldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513.


  1. I think that a site which has plenty of visitors is probably doing most of the correct things anyway. Certainly, I keep popping by because of the style and the content. As you say, your skills are developing, in a gradual evolutionary way, rather than being pushed down any particular avenue. To shout "Don't change anything!" would be wrong , as life is all about change, but if it happens in a gentle organic way, then you will carry the majority of your followers with you.

    Most bloggers seem to go through stages of self assessment, and this would seem to be a good thing. For what it's worth, my advice would be "Be you, and follow your instincts." They've been pretty spot on so far! And, if I admit it to myself, if I ever achieved half the quality of your writing and presentation, I'd be a happy bunny.

    Wishing you and yours all the best for the festive season. Regards, Graeme

  2. I'll echo what Graeme said: just please keep on being you, and following your instincts!

    I subscribe to hundreds of RSS feeds, but visit only a few blogs away from Google Reader. Dipper Ranch is one of the few. I love the look of the blog, the sense of place, and the range of topics. Thank you so much for observing and sharing.

    I wish you a lovely holiday season and all the best in 2012.

  3. Congrats, Cindy! Ditto what Graeme said.

    It's been a pleasure to read your blog. Your writing style is very accessible, so I'd advise continue on the path you're already on, knowing full well it may "dip" and turn. I trust your information, and I've learned quite a bit from you.

    I think your blog design is just fine. I do wonder what the difference is between "Best of" and "Popular Posts." Ha! I just discovered your sidebar pics actually link to other posts, or in the case of "Signs of What?" to one of mine. Cool. Sorry, we're probably not providing you with the most satisfying answers to your questions.

    I found you in May 2010 through Nature Blog Network's map, because up to that point I hadn't found any other local nature blogs. I'm glad I did.

    Thank you, Cindy, for sharing!

  4. I love your blog -- I echo what the others have said. Whatever you write, however you write, is all good with me.


  5. A couple of comments I have received offline are that my posts are too long. Not sure how to change that but I'm keeping it in mind.

  6. I do find the posts a little long. I look at only three blogs. Yours, dailycoyote.net, and http://mamasmagic.blogspot.com (a dear friend of mine). I look at these once or twice a week at the end of a long day. I would love to see you post more often - it is such a treat when you do - and have it be something I can read all at once in a not-too-long sitting. That is just my style, I am sure others have different preferences.

    Your writing is magical. It shines both because of who you are but also because of the work you put into it. Keep on truckin.



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