Monthly Archives: November 2018

Winter Birdsong in East Iceland

 

Well, it’s freezing in Hallormstaðir, and the Lagarfljót isn’t, shall we say, a great place for swimming today, but while the weather stations are warning of heavy snow and ice ahead, let’s remember the ice of April, as it breaks on the shore with the music of a flock of 100,000 tiny birds. The ice is the birds, as it shatters and lifts, and refreezes and tilts and falls, and washes in on the waves, all written with the record of a year.

What wondrous runes telling of every moment the winter through.

It’s beginning now. If you go down to the lake, you might catch the first words, but do stay safe on those slick roads.

And if you can’t, well, there’s April, when the ice plays its recording, just once, in birdsong.

 

Dusk Over Thor’s Shield

In November, when sunrise and sunset colours continue in unbroken unfolding light from dawn, near 10 a.m., and dusk near 2 or 3 p.m., it comes so quickly that you can see it open and close through the spectrum, as if you are inside a film, a really, really wide-angle 4-D film.

Here is a fraction of a second of its wonder over the volcano in early November, as I walked through flaming heather and pink snow at þingvellir. I shot the image with two much sky to illustrate how unsettling it can be. One feels at times that one can fall right off the Earth and drown in air.

Svartifoss: River of Blood

Perhaps it’s called Svartifoss (Black Falls) because it shows itself on a black basalt cliff.

Bad Light Helps One See Clearly Here

Perhaps it’s because the red autumn birches turn black with distance, and still the fall flashes.

Autumn Rain Really Brings Out the Light of This Land

In either case, it’s not the cliff that is named but the water.

It seems that when blackness falls it is visible. Of course, that means it’s not black at all…

… or that whiteness is also a blindness, beyond human life. We marvel. Life, it comes from nowhere, flashes with life, and then returns to mystery.

Svartifoss in Its Pool of Birch Blood

~

Svartifoss, Skaftafell National Park, South Iceland