Better than a bicycle, any day! (At least in late April!)
Sideways, so sly?
With a house for company?
Among muck-raking sheep?
From the city?
From a boat?
At the end of the road?
Over the mouth of a river?
These are the mysteries of people who live after the landing that makes firm ground out of waves that, wouldn’t you know, is not so firm after all. Yeah, best, maybe to just wade out with the trolls.
Waiting for whatever comes!
But their appeal was solid.
Today, the ads are still about superhuman melancholy, about prowess in conditions that would slay most others, but with adventure. No longer is being bodily present in Iceland enough. You have to be an airplane.
Imagine if the Icelanders just got up one day and redefined the human myth instead! I’m waiting for that day.
Perhaps new glasses first?
In West Iceland, the aluminum plant in Hvalfjörður, which draws power from the dammed highlands, is watched over by the abandoned World War II fighter base that guarded the British Fleet, and which is now gone to the birds.
In East Iceland, the aluminum plant in Reydarfjörður draws power from Skaftafell, in the cloud at the height of the Lagarfljót, watched over by an abandoned horse-drawn manure spreader on the farm Gunnar bought to avoid the Second World War.
These too are the faces of war. In Iceland, which won its independence during the Second World War while its colonial masters in Denmark were occupied by the Germans, that war is honoured by double-edged memorials such as these.
Back in the days before lava covered the best of Iceland and people had to move up onto the hills with their sheep…
The basalt column marks the old church.
… were famous for keeping a group of nuns, well, orphan girls for the most part, over at Kirkubærjarklaustur, for the pleasure that could be gained from that …
… in just the place the Irish monks (who were on Iceland before the Icelanders) were camping out in caves in the cliffs and living off bird eggs (and then abandoned because a bunch of noisy pagans and their Irish women [slaves aka wives] had moved into town), and I wonder, you know, if the priests didn’t choose the place because the falls are like a bridal veil.
… that flows down the hill separately, splits around the rock (fine Christian symbolism there) and then unites as one — before flowing through the cloister. We’ll never know, but we do know that the young women were set to work embroidering cloth, and that Icelandic cloth was the best in the world. It would be a surprise if the amorous priests missed out on the symbolism, or didn’t point it out to the girls left in their charge. At any rate, the falls are beautiful, and richer for a history older than Iceland, even though the lava took all the best land away, some say to punish those lascivious priests.
Still, the land’s still good enough for zipping through on a tractor, so all is not lost.
Why does Reykjavik build a wall to separate itself from Iceland?
To keep back the sea, perhaps. On an island, this may be the way: one is always blocked by water. It can be comforting. As things evolve, however, blocking behaviour become internalized, and then when your colonizers give you cars, why, you can always drive around, right? There remains no price for blocking … or does there? Or does “driving around” still not untie an old, old knot?
Is it goofing around with a culvert at Grandatorg?
Or goofing around with shop windows on Laugavegur?
Or the painting amusing themselves at Kjarvalstaðir, because everyone has come to lunch with old friends, and the paintings are certainly old friends.
Or some weird kind of planting flowers to give children hope in front of some everybody-comes-to-Iceland-with-spray-cans-now-that-the-building-sites-have-been-abandoned-after-the-financial-meltdown, because what else?
It’s the cigarette tin, right?
No, wait! It’s spilled paint and a stick on a parking lot!
It never ends. Icelanders are a pretty serious looking bunch, even Björk, and they write about gruesome murders and stuff, and their novelists kill off all their heroes and heroines just because, but don’t believe it, because they’re always goofing off, with a straight face. Do you think the horses taught them about this, in those centuries of isolation?
Well, maybe not the straight face part.