Nowhere but in Borgarfjördur Eystri have I found mountains that so clearly express beings from another dimension of understanding. It’s no wonder that the great Icelandic painter Kjarval got started here.
The show changes daily, too:
All around. At distance…
… or up close:
Every step is through two worlds at once, and it’s your moving that makes the images move. Here, for instance, is the elf from the first image, three hours later, from a different angle. She’s like a very slow wind taking our measure.
While getting boots and gloves and hat ready to go over the lip of the hill last December 24 and visit Sheep’s Falls, one of my favourite waterfalls, many tourists stopped as well: the first stop, it seems, two or three hard hours of driving from Reykjavik. Time and again, they took a few pictures over the Berserkerjahraun to the rising sun, and then posed for each others’ cameras and drove on. It was intimate and sweet.
Still, they had Kirkjufoss to get to before the rising sun was no longer behind the mountain, and they didn’t need me telling them it would be worth it to walk for ten minutes down through the drifts, because they might not have come to Iceland to see the pale, pale winter sun and to learn its nature. They had places to be getting along to, with better cameras and the hope for brighter light, and promises had been made to them, and promises, we know, should be kept.
Just imagine how many times a day any and every traveller in Iceland, myself included, encounters people who know where they are and what is worth seeing and say nothing, because that’s the way of the land itself. As Paul Theroux pointed out half a century ago while travelling by train through South America, it’s North Americans (myself included) who point to stuff.
We had visited the falls two days before, but when we stepped outside at sunrise on the day after Christmas (11:30 a.m.) and saw the light, we quickly changed our plans. Luckily, the falls were only ten minutes away and the hunch was right. The mountain claims you, that’s what I can say.
Some books only have one page. Here’s a midsummer one above Njardvik. Day by day it reveals itself, like a film.
Look at how the dragon from the south (left) is giving way to grass and cliffs, while the one from the right is holding strong, with three stories opening within its long ribcage. And check out the sad faces appearing in the slo-mo approach of the dragon from the south. Will it disappear before they do? Whew! Such suspense!