How to get through January (without upsetting Instagram)
It is Friday 20th January. If this Monday was "Blue Monday", traditionally the most depressing day of the year, then I can't imagine what today is. Because we all know what 20th January 2017 means. I fear it is a date that will long be remembered in history, and for all the wrong reasons. So today I am staying away from all news feeds and focussing instead on all the reasons to be cheerful about January. Good. Did I mention it is also Dry January in our household this year? I have never done one before, mainly for the reason that we tend to need cheering up in January more than any other month. But somehow this year we reached the conclusion that we didn't need to lighten our moods, possibly on account of all the uplifting world events and actually there's nothing better than being the only two people at a wake who are not drinking. Luckily, we didn't give up chocolate as well. That's next month. And in March I am crossing dairy off the list as well. By April, this feed will be so depressing that nobody will be reading it any more and I shall be crying over my keyboard as I blog into a void.
Ah, January, with so much to look forward to...
Whilst avoiding the real world today, I have spent even more time than usual in the other reality which is Instagram. I learnt that it has 4.2 billion members, 600 million active monthly users and over 150 million of us post on Stories daily. I only concern myself with the ones involving flowers, dog rescues, ethical consumption and of course, micro pigs (current favourite : @oink_itsolive) but something that has struck me this month, is that everyone is posting images of pretty much anything but January. At the end of the year, I really enjoyed joining in the #2016bestnine and even shared a few of my personal favourites, and not even in a Charlie Brooker satirical type round up of the year. However, we are now well into the latter part of January and we are still recapping. I get it, people are really missing the warmth of the summer months and looking forward to a the when roses are back in season. I too am looking forward to seeing the roses, though perhaps not as much as I am to tasting the rosé at this stage of the month... I totally see why posting summer images gives us something to look forward to. But I really try to enjoy each season as it comes and so it seems a little sad to be wishing away these moments with the promise of something better to come.
So, why not post lots of lovely seasonal pieces that we are working on? Alas, there is a simple answer to this one, as it summed up by the image below:
That's right. Il n'y a pas de fleurs. January is possibly the worst month for getting hold of locally grown flowers. I made a good use of a batch of flowers from around the world in my last post to assuage my guilt, but the reality is that there is just so little around. With the obvious exception of my other favourite flower, the hellebore. Unlike my relatively recent, if passionate, love for the amaryllis, my love for the hellebore is long standing and constant. There are gorgeous on their own, and make any arrangement immediately better. They have their own #helleboreappreciationsociety hashtag and who can resist a lovely image of some hellebores?
But then what? If we aren't to overload our feeds with a wistful glance (or ten) back to the summer months, then what else are we to do? Well, for one thing we could look forward to Spring. One of my new favourite hashtags de jour is #signsofspring , another is #seasonalshift. Today I posted a flat lay of some paper whites and narcissus on top of another piece of music entitled "Narcissus". Was it a coincidence that my husband, who plays the piano very beautifully, by the way, happened to own this piece of vintage music? Or did I spend days trawling Ebay and Etsy for vintage sheet music and finally come across this as a possibility for a dark and gloomy day? Did I also stumble across another piece of music entitled "Dance of the Flowers" (but in French) and spot a way to cover the -s- and make quick joke about January? Either way, it made for a relatively guilt free piece and a giggle respectively, so I guess it doesn't matter. But apart from that, I'm bit stumped. I had been saving some images taken at the Ponderosa and Thyme workshop last April and had thought it might be nice to share a couple now and again, like once every few weeks, in order to build up to the arrival of actual British flowers. But, alas, I have been well and truly beaten to the post on that front, and I don't want to be like P.G. Wodehouse's Tuppy Glossop singing "Sonny Boy" for the umpteenth time to a rotten tomato throwing crowd. If you have a few minutes to spare, and are not familiar with the scene, or would like to be reminded of it, here it is.... it's quite fun and in itself an antidote to the January blues.
Meanwhile, back to the case in point. If there are no British flowers, and posting photos of earlier workshops and roses from last summer ad finitum are devices to be avoided, then what on earth is one to do? I had planned more flat lays and was reaching for my Observer's Book of Wild Flowers - it has a lovely green cover and works perfectly in my grid's colour scheme. But, a quick survey of Instagram shows me that, again, I have been pipped to the post. I wonder how many copies of said book are in circulation,several decades after it went out of print...? A dear friend and respected floral designer has posted her a photo of hers with narcissus on top and, I am sure, near identical grey velvet ribbon to that which I too purchased in VV Rouleaux before Christmas. All of which leaves me with a First World, decidedly Middle Class Crisis, of what on earth I can possibly post without vaguely crossing over with someone else's ideas and/or breaking my environmental code of ethics...?
And the answer is, I'm not sure that I can. To keep my account going, I'm going to do a bit of foraging in the Cotswolds this week, but I'm going to buy a small amount of flowers too, and there is a chance that not all of them will be British. One of my favourite flower friends, Jenn Pinder, announced this week that she is aiming to be 100% British by 2020, and I think that's a great goal. Given my hopes to be planting seeds and bulbs in the latter part of 2017, I think I may give myself a similar time frame. But if, later this week, you see posts of flowers adorning the National Trust Cottage in Snowshill that we are currently renting, possibly with The Observer's Book of Wild Flowers beside it, do forgive me. We are none of us perfect, least of all I.
Next week: A cottage full of flowers in Snowshill, Broadway!