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Although I am a proud American, I adore HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. She is so classy, kind, down to earth, and elegant. Last year during the lockdowns in the United Kingdom she launched a project called Hold Still 2020 along with one of her patronages, The National Portrait Gallery. The mission was for people across the UK to submit a photo that showed their experiences (struggles and joys) during their lockdown. Earlier this year the Duchess and the National Portrait Gallery announced they would be releasing a coffee table book with the top 100 photos submitted from across the kingdom (to be released on May 7, 2021).
I could not resist snagging my own copy. I preordered mine from the book depository in London, and it took about a month and a half to arrive after its publication date. (If you would like a copy, they are now available here on Amazon.)
When my copy finally arrived, I immediately sat down to peruse it. These photos are amazing and moving. They got me thinking about my own “lockdown” experience…though in the Great State of Texas we were not locked down to the extent they were across the pond I still thought it would be interesting to look through my photos from last year and see how they tell my story of 2020.
A lot happened last year. Each time, in the bad, I tried to find the good. Here are the photos that tell the highlights of my 2020 – as I didn’t tend to photograph the bad.
The start of 2020 (in hindsight) was a blazing warning…Australia was on fire. I was happy to be a part of the Koala Klub that helped bring relief to WIRES – an Australian wildlife rescue organization. One of my (ok, my cat’s) Instagram friends started the “klub” to raise money for WIRES, in return you were mailed an adorable Koala bow tie for your cat (or dog). Isn’t Benchley dashing?! We were able to surpass our original fundraising goal.
I had entered a charity bike ride (I had been training for the 36-mile route since September 2019). Unfortunately do to circumstances, the ride was cancelled. However, I still logged the miles and biked for a different organization, one that helps research children’s cancer. I biked over 300 miles in September alone and raised over $500 for the research to end cancer. (If you are interested in bicycling, the Great Cycle Challenge is an awesome way to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, and also it is a great way to have fun. Check out their website for more details.)
I discovered/created a new hobby of collecting rainwater for my garden, and I bought some “skeeter eaters” for my water collection.
In retrospect this is really sad for me (because of events in 2021), but last year my orange trees had a bumper crop of blossoms. They were so beautiful and walking into the backyard they smelled heavenly. Which is saying a lot, since I tend to think flowers stink.
I spent a lot of time at my local lake. For years now I have biked over the lake, but I have also loved walking down to it and finding unique photo opportunities. I went fishing on the free fishing day Texas has once a year (“free fishing” meaning no license required). I got a paddle board and learned how to SUP. (Isn’t that stick fish adorable?!)
I wired a lamp – I made a lamp out of my dad’s old high school band cornet.
I had a personal record-breaking sized orange. Most of the oranges that my trees produce only got to be the size of my pinky fingernail. (Please note I only had my trees produce blooms and oranges in 2019 and 2020.) The biggest one I had last year was about the size of a gumball!
I painted some cows for my garden. They were in honor of the cows on the farm my grandparents had.
I completed my dollhouse, a project 18 years in the making. For more information and photos of my dollhouse, check out this post.
Orange trees have crazy long thorns. I took a phot with my Aggie ring on one to show the scale. Then my dad told me that my ring is too small to be a good indicator of scale. So, at Thanksgiving I borrowed his for a double Aggie ring on one thorn shot. It seems silly, but I really love this photo.
I saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
I helped feed the bees!
I befriended a toad living under my orange tree pots. He later decided to vacation in my water collection buckets (and got stuck).
My grandma passed away and it was time to sell the family farm. Saying goodbye to it was bittersweet…we all had lots of happy memories there, but neither Grandma nor Grandpa was still there so the house had become a hollow shell full of memories – memories we can take with us everywhere!
In 2020 I had my first ever potato harvest! Granted they were about the right size for Barbie (if she ate carbs), but they were still really exciting to me. I used these “Barbie potatoes” as seed potatoes for an experiment in my garden this year and thus far they have produced very happy potato plants…I can’t wait to see what their harvest is like.
I found these ugly creatures eating away at my orange trees. To stop them from destroying my trees (ha!), I created a caterpillar/butterfly habitat, collected them, and then fed them the half-eaten leaves they had abandoned for greener/unnibbled leaves. I collected 5 and only one hatched. It was a beauty even though it was a menace before it cocooned.
Interesting side story on this particular 2020 experience – all of the caterpillars cocooned – only one did so on a twig in the box, the other four cocooned on the sides of the plastic box. I could swear the ones that didn’t emerge moved when I touched them…so, I decided to dissect one of those four. It did indeed wiggle if you touched the “horns” on the cocoon, and it you applied any pressure to the cocoon’s shell. The shell was very hard and the only way to see what was inside was to completely cut it in half. Once I could see inside it appeared to be a liquified caterpillar. (Note: I had left them alone to emerge for months before I decided to dissect.)
I learned to enjoy nature even more (even if it meant I had to be sprayed with Off! every single day – sometimes twice). Like the whole of last year, I got really good at seeing the beauty in the not so wonderful or ideal. Like the spiderwebs above. I really don’t like spiders, I will concede that they play a vital role in the world and that ecosystems would collapse without them, but I still don’t like them. Anyway, the spiderwebs, like the sticky, carefully woven narrative of last year has some beauty if you look for it. People came to help complete strangers; the importance of things like freedom, smiles, a healthy immune system, and a hug have never been so well understood; and patriots awakened to see tough truths beyond comprehension.
Like the little glittery waterdrop diamonds on the thin webs, we were reminded that it’s the little things in life that mean the most.
Lastly, I think this photo of Benchley pretty much sums up the majority of the world’s feelings about 2020. So much was wrong. So much was fabricated. So much was stolen.
These are beautiful photos that not only tell the story of 2020, but how what we see (and focus on) can be different from person to person.