As depressing as this may sound, and I truly don’t want to be a downer, the only word I can come up with to fully and accurately describe 2020 has been grief. The year has been heavy and hard and ultimately heartbreaking in so many ways. Grief isn’t necessarily negative, but there is a weight to it – to love something, really anything, is to grieve for it.
When I look back on 2020, I imagine an old-timey newspaper salesman (paperboy?) on the street yelling “Extra! Extra! There is immeasurable joy! There is immeasurable grief!” When I find myself in seasons of sorrow, I can more clearly see the true joy of my life- the things that really matter. The valley is the place of vision.
This week Ray and I watched a Dolly Parton documentary on Netflix and it talked about how many of her early songs were incredibly dark. Mountain music is dark. It talks of struggle, poverty, heartbreak, and death. In the future when people look back on 2020 I’m sure there will be songs written of sorrow and death… but maybe there will also be songs of vision, creativity, justice, and how we moved forward.
I don’t have anything really profound to say about 2021, but we’ll have a new baby a few weeks in, which inevitably will start a new season in our lives. I’m going into 2021 hopeful and my prayer is that you are too.
2020 has been… stressful, to say the least. One of the things that kept our spirits up over the duration of the spring and summer was tending our garden. We’ve gardened in years past, but this year we went about it with more intention. Not to mention, with quarantining, we had much more time!
While Ray focused on vegetables, I put my efforts into flowers. I planted zinnias (the easiest and most prolific summer flower), strawflowers, and globe amaranth.
We replaced our air conditioner in August, which caused us to pull up some of our garden a littler earlier than expected (but honestly, it was worth it.)
We have big plans to extend our garden, add some raised beds, and lay down rocks for next year!
In the midst of this pandemic, I’ve noticed a lot of people baking banana bread – some for the first time! Banana bread is so comforting, and honestly, that’s what we need during these unpredictable times. I’ve made countless loaves of banana bread and tried tons of different recipes. A few years ago, I figured out my perfect recipe and today I’m sharing it with you. I hope you try it out and enjoy!
What is there to say when you’ve neglected your blog for 2 years? Should I start with life updates? Should I explain myself? Give excuses? Does anyone even care? These are just a few questions I’ve been bouncing around for the better part of the last year.
My life is very different than when I originally created this blog, but also kind of the same. My husband and I still live in North Florida in a 125 year old home. In May we had a baby and we’re 100% obsessed with him. We have different days jobs and different side projects. We still love to binge on Netflix. I still paint my nails and Ray still owns a lot of weird shit.
So, that’s the current goings on in the Hancock family. More to come. 🙂
I know this blog has been dismal over the past year or so, and truthfully I have no excuse. But, as I was reflecting over the last 12 (or 14) months, I decided there were some things worth sharing, the first of which being our October trip to Iceland.
Visiting Iceland feels like visiting another planet. The beauty found on the island is truly indescribable. Ray and I were lucky enough to visit this amazing place with some of our favorite people, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.
We started off with a bang, arriving at 6am, and headed straight for the famous Blue Lagoon. Some say the Blue Lagoon is too touristy, but we loved it. The silica enriched, milky-blue warm water paired with the rocky landscape was exactly what we needed after a long flight. The Blue Lagoon is on the pricier side, at about $95 per person, but very worth the cost. Our reservation was early, and we were able to avoid huge crowds.
We spent the rest of the day exploring downtown Reykjavik and settling into our airbnb. The highlight for me was visiting the clock tower at Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland’s largest church. The views from the clock tower are unreal!
The next day we started our journey on the golden circle, an area in south Iceland full of beautiful sights. We visited Kerid crater, Gysyer, Faxi waterfall, and Gullfoss waterfall. We also ate ice cream while watching cows graze.
Our next day started early with some amazing waterfalls, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Skogafoss was our first real view of what Iceland had to offer landscape-wise. Skogafoss is famous for having a path that takes you to the backside of the waterfall. Seljalandsfoss is huge, mighty, and has a (terrifying) staircase to the top. I, being terrified of heights, passed on the staircase, but Ray and Krista climbed to the top and claimed the view was breathtaking.
From there, we made our way to the town of Vik. Vik is on the southernmost point of Iceland and is famous for it’s black sand beach. Right offshore are stacks of basalt rocks, which according to legend, are former trolls. The icelandic people have a rich folklore involving trolls, elves, hidden people, and other mythical beings. This may have been my favorite day of the trip. The sights were indescribably breathtaking. Being from the flat lands of Florida, seeing the literal hundreds of waterfalls, cliffs, mountains, and valleys was a mesmerizing treat.
Our fourth day we took a little easier. We had to switch out one of our rental cars, so a few of the boys went back to Reykjavik to take care of that. Ray, Kristi, Krista, and I went grocery shopping and had famous Icelandic hot dogs. We all spent the afternoon at Thingvellir National Park, where the North American and European tectonic plates meet. We saw a few waterfalls, location shoots from Game of Thrones, and at least 30 rainbows.
Our fifth day was our longest travel day paired with our worst weather. Our first stop was Fjadrargljufur Canyon, which had the most un-Florida like views! Next we made our way to Vatnajokull, Iceland’s largest glacier. This wasn’t something we originally had on our itinerary, but I’m so glad we went!! We were able to hike to the edge of Vatnajokull and taste 1,000 year old ice! We then made our way to diamond beach and the iceberg lagoon. By this point in the day, it was cold and rainy but the dreary weather couldn’t take away from the beauty of the icebergs.
That evening we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, one of the main sights we were hoping to see while in Iceland. I can’t even describe what an incredible experience it was. We had been checking the forecast all week and were worried we wouldn’t get our chance to see them. I’m so thankful the skies cleared and we saw the Northern Lights dance across the Icelandic sky.
Our last full day was spent searching for breweries, petting Icelandic horses, exploring the countryside, and eating at the famous tomato restaurant. The tomato restaurant is located in one of Iceland’s largest greenhouses. We dined on tomato soup, olive bread, tomato based cocktails, and even tomato ice cream!
Before catching our flight home, we spent our morning in downtown Reykjavik. We spent a few hours checking out museums and shops and bidding Iceland a farewell.
It’s difficult to truly put into words the beauty and magnitude of this trip. Iceland feels like a completely different planet. I encourage everyone to visit this mysterious and breathtaking island if given the opportunity.