Monthly Archives: December 2018

Iceland’s Economy: a View from the Rustbelt

Shocking. Discarded iron in Iceland. This stuff is usually stacked up at the side of a driveway, waiting to be banged into something new, but this is the Rett at Kirkjubær, so maybe it was some relatives from the big city, come out to the countryside to help with the winter roundup at the sheepfold, and there was, like snow or something, and when the shovel broke, well, nuts, and they drove away.

Of course, it could also be that the shovel was cheap, because it’s not always the best stuff that gets imported to Iceland, because it’s frightfully expensive when you have to pay for it in Kronur with codfish on them, and each of those coins is worth less than a penny in a real currency. At that rate, even the cheapest shovel costs you, like, a few thousand dollars, or something.

Whew! And what do the sheep think of that, pray tell? (I mean, given the mangled state of that shovel, I think we can guess at just what the human take on it is, but the sheep?)

Ah, they’re leaving the shovels to the humans. Just one of those mysteries. Makes sense. But why was this perfectly good chain left behind? Because of the snow? In Canada, let’s say, this would have been liberated long ago, but in Iceland, it seems, a man’s craziness is his own business, and if the chain has to rust before he comes to his senses, it’s respectful to give him the time and space he needs.

OK, that’s my guess. Either that or laziness is as much an Icelandic trait as it is anywhere else in the world and does as much to shape a country than industriousness.

Someone has to pile the rocks up before someone else can let them fall down. But without this, the crazy beauty of the place would be dampened.

After 1100 years, humans are starting to get the knack of the place.

When you arrive here, the rest of the world loses value — not all at once, but with time.


Meeting the Neighbours in Iceland, Old-Style


Volcano meets the sea:


Volcano meets the sky:


Volcano meets time:

Near Dettifoss

Volcano meets ice:


Volcano meets iceberg:


Volcano meets ancient soils (and cooks them red):

Volcano meets birch trees after a conversation with a post-glacial flood river:


Volcano meets glacier:


Volcano meets itself.

Near Dettifoss

Volcano meets snowmobile:


Lots of fun meeting new people!


Volcanic Ash Blowing in the Seljaland Wind

Worried about ash blowing around in the wind? It’s beautiful and mysterious isn’t, and makes your photographs, well, blur.


But if you go closer anyway, look who you will find dancing in the wind.

Bog Cotton!

So, blurriness, you see, is something to walk out into in the wind. When I did, it made me think I was a child of the wind myself. Oh, wait. I am.

Darkness in Iceland Signifies Warmth and Shelter

You want to stick close to it. What you want to avoid is water and ice.


Let the sheep risk that stuff. Such is the knowledge of a people whose origins are in “settlement” and not colonization — a people for whom “land” is a “landing”, a being lifted out of the sea. You don’t forget a thing like that. The darned thing keeps coming back.