Where I Ruminate on why a Blog is like Sourdough Starter: A Parable

After about a month of blogging it has occurred to me that keeping a blog is like maintaining sourdough starter. Let me explain. Thirty years ago in our newlywed Maine days our friend Alison gave us a small batch of sourdough starter, which is a fermented batter of flour and water. This particular starter, Alison told us with reverence, was reputedly more than a hundred years old. The starter is used, in lieu of other yeast, to make sourdough bread.

Martha and I were young and countercultural and this sounded very cool, and it was kinda cool for a time, but there was a problem. You have to feed the starter! If you don’t feed the starter it gets funkier and sourer by the week and eventually turns dark brown and poisons your refrigerator (did I mention it takes up room there?)

You have to feed the starter every week. First you drain off the alcoholic liquid that has accumulated on the top (it’s called, appropriately enough, “hooch.”) Then you put in some flour for the living colony of organisms that is your starter to munch on.

So as time goes on the thing in the refrigerator grows, which is fine if you are a professional baker or an avid amateur that makes bread several times a week. But we were neither.

We made sourdough bread a couple times, and found the feeding to be a chore, but still somehow felt loyalty to this heirloom starter in the fridge, so it just took up residence there.

The starter wasn’t really useful to us anymore, but we had been feeding it for so long we were invested in its survival.

Finally, two things happened that led us to abandon the starter. First, we had a child, who actually really needed to be fed regularly, which took away some of the starter’s leverage. And, secondly, we each admitted to the other that we didn’t really like sourdough bread. “Those who have ears let them hear.”