Monthly Archives: January 2017

Gunnar’s Grave

When Gunnar was a boy at ValÞfjösstaður Farm, he was given a walnut for Christmas: one walnut. It was an unimaginable gift of wealth. He ate the nut, and with the one half intact shell, he made a boat and set into the stream, the ValÞfjösstaðurá, that flowed off the Ogre’s Stairway above the farm, and chased along beside as it went. Out of that walnut, he dreamed of ships crossing the sea, and of leaving isolation to be a full citizen of the greater world. He did, and then he came home, and then he went to Reykjavik. He’s buried now on Viðey, the holy island in Old Reykjavik Harbour. I tried to bring him a stone from home four years ago, but it was late in the year and the ferry wasn’t running. I promised to come back. I did, just last fall. I brought him a gift from across the sea.skald

Do you see the walnut shell there, for his travels? Fare well, dear Gunnar, on whatever seas bear you.

How Winter Comes to Reykjavik

It comes over the mountains from the glaciers, who draw it from the sky and send it back to the sea as an image of themselves.winter

November 5, 2016, Viðey

It comes as a flood. It comes in a fog river many kilometres in width. It doesn’t come from the Atlantic. That is Caribbean water out there. Up in the sky, well, that is a far different thing. That is not this world at all.

The Earth, Bleeding

Both these images of Icelandic birches were taken around 3 pm in early November. In the first, the red light is brightening the colour of the birches at Geysir.birches-2

In the second, the sun is blasting through snow at Hraunfosser, without diminishing the red of the birches.p1390163

Red is not a bright colour. That is not its strength.




Only in Iceland

Here in Grundarfjörður, a horse trailer and a boat are both parked together in the harbour on an Autumn day. Fish and horses, eh.  That’s the Icelandic way.

p1350418Does that not suggest that this country is a harbour, or a series of them? Are not both journeys, into the sea of the mountains or the sea of the waves, the same journey? And this third journey, up?

p1350312Life here is a shore.

p1360069It is a dangerous place of passage, a place of setting down, departure and return, and a place of harbour and shipwreck at once, but it is the only one there is. It is a tidal zone, for humans.