Vík í Myrdal
Since the raven and her mate circled around all the time, keeping an eye on things, one day at Skriðuklaustur, when the geese arrived to wait for spring, I sat down on a hill and waited to catch the raven, framed by the geese! What fun! Gunnar’s house is a happening place, out there in East Iceland, I tell ya!
Alas, I failed. While I was waiting, the geese kind of waddled around honking a bit and closed my frame, and the raven was, well, quick! So, not centred. Well, ravens and humans are like that, eh. I’m thinking that the geese are not amused by either of us
It’s good to remember that photography is “writing with light.” It is also the capture of light. For example, what colour is Iceland? This?
Only the first is “real.” The other two are manipulated, but I promise, you can find those machine-made colours as well. You just have to wait. There is no real colour. There are only moments.
Just for fun. Winter is best for this game.
I hope these two images from show how before there were roads, making a human map of the landscape…
Near Hellisnes by Fjaðrárgljúfur
…there were lavas and rivers …
… making a map at once spiritual and far beyond the human. Traversing them, each journey is its own map, or, to put it another way, every journey is a story, passed on as story. An ideal writing conference in Iceland would go to the heart of this kind of storytelling. All else follows, or leads away.
I’ve driven past these falls above the Selfljót many times. They give me a shiver every time.
And yet I always look. I hope it’s just because it’s good to know where your enemies are. I hope I haven’t been caught in its spell.
The south of Iceland is blowing away, such as this pasture in the old sheepfold at Kirkjubær.
One cannot return to the past.
The Icelanders are very clever. They put up a picnic site on top of the hill above Seyðisfjörður, to allow travellers to get their bearings after the steep climb out of the fjord and before the steep drop down into Egilsstaðir. That’s the kind part. The clever part is the picnic sign, as you can see.
See that? Travellers coming off the ferry from Europe get a chance to use up all their stickers at once, in one spot, and then that’s that. Done.
This is the height of summer. You might not want to linger long up here.
OK, ya, the people are all gone. It’s just ruins now.
But the houses aren’t empty. Here are some sheep who have moved in. Lords of the manor at last!
Victory comes to the patient.
For the capital city of the queen of the elves in downtown Bakkagerði, it’s a bit of a lump. Still, humans look up to it.
Meanwhile, elves look down.
This change in perspective seems to be species specific. Here’s a view of another one of the elf hills in the fjord.
Same rule applies. Humans look up. Elves look down. And yet, if you climb the Alfaborg, you’ll meet many images of elves cast by your mind and stone at the same time, so you can’t really tell the difference. Here’s one.
Not really looking down or up at the one-to-one level. I think this is called the theory of relativity, invented by Icelanders long before Einstein got to it.
It used to be possible to walk up to these falls near Kirkjubærjarklaustur, but it has been closed off due to disrespect, especially illegal camping. You can still spot its trolls from a distance, though, if you have a good eye. Do pay your respects with a nod, at least, and for Troll’s sakes, respect those farms and their stock. The place should be a UNESCO site.
Imagine going up to this troll, through all these stone bones and heads, and collecting water for the farmhouse at its foot. It was here that I learned that trolls keep humans because humans keep sheep and trolls really like sheep. A humbling and always slightly uncertain relationship.