Once, these birch forests were burned to smelt iron, then they were nibbled to naught by sheep.
A thousand years of erosion later, they became symbols of Iceland’s independence, and were carefully grown up from their sheep-nibbled stubs.
Then Iceland got to work hosting tourists. The north, and its tourists, were left behind, so tourists were brought on busses as late as 2019. They had 30 minutes to walk through the trails, without history, and then were off to think whatever they might think.
The Icelanders weren’t going there themselves in 2019. They were going here, upriver, by horse expedition:
Now what? The forests wait.
Could this motherly nudge be why some maps call this “Whale Bay”?
Öxarfjörður in June
Black sand beaches are fun. You can watch the glaciers melt away to nothing there. This is endlessly fascinating. Most Icelandic tourism is based around twinning this melting…
… with a bit of human heat…
Perhaps now you’re ready for the Beach of Blood?
Maybe you’re ready to go north?
You won’t be alone.
If we want to end global warming, we will have to resist it and discover cold.
This fledgling thrush last summer was, like all thrushes, social and curious. I had one at Skriðuklaustur that perched on the window daily: a small house god, eating insects that came to the glass and knock knock knock knocking on the pane. It’s best to consider thrushes, like trees, as magical creatures from the world of the Huldúfolk, visiting his with messages. Their bodies are doorways. In this case, the bird was caught between fear, and defensive freezing, and curiosity.
Intriguingly, its mother was nearby, keeping an eye out. Like its relative, the American Robin, these little guys get to spend some time alone with the world. I had a robin nest in my apricot tree here in Canada for about five years. Every year, when her hatchlings got too big for the nest and fell out, she would leave them for an entire day and night, and only if they survived that would she return to feed them.
I hiked once out to the Easter Cave in Neskaupstaðir, with a thrush leading the way along the path. Thrushes make good guides. The Earth is strong in them. When you meet one, pay attention. They come with a message.
One special delight in Iceland is to watch water create living forms of darkness, written on rock.
Ásbyrgi, Where Water is One of the Huldúfolk
In the past, the water sculpted the rock. Now it sculpts us.
Nothing beats Icelandic architecture.