Author Archives: Harold Rhenisch

About Harold Rhenisch

www.haroldrhenisch.com

Are Old Roads Better than New Ones or New Ones Better, Hmmm?

Here’s the old road to Gerduberg in winter. Bit of a trudge.

And here’s the new one leaving it and passing up into the hills. Bit of a muck fest.

Right, here’s an old track the way to Snaefellsjökull. Bit of a dodge, isn’t it.

And the new one?

It’s so nice, they’ve given it a go at blocking it off! The funny thing here is that the old tracks are human made and the new ones are made by machine. One gives access to humans, at a human pace, with arrival at a form of human identity, and the other gives access to humans riding in machines, at a machine pace, with arrival at a form of machine identity. Some things must, simply enough, be slow. Sometimes you just have to sit down for a half year, or a thousand years, and get the lay of the land on a human scale until you become it. In summer…

… when there’s nowhere to park, and in winter …

… you’ll find yourself on foot.

Gerduberg Parking Lot in Winter

By car, you’re already thinking of moving on.

Why It Took So Long to Discover Iceland

To my ancestors, blue, white and gold were one indistinguishable colour.

The Road to Rettarskard

If they had come to Iceland, they would have only seen a pink glow of the sun in the snow, so faint they might just not have found Iceland at all. And they didn’t! The colours had to be invented first. I’m glad they did, though!

Gerduberg in Winter

This old farm building below the famous basalt cliff Gerduberg is a good reminder of a changing climate, for even here, in a remote farming district, the wind is taking the soil away. Look at how it is staining the drifts on the hilltop brown.

It means there is no plant life holding it down. No-one needs a farm shelter here any more. Touring Iceland is often a trip through ruins. It’s like a winter trip itself: one freezes terribly in the wind, but can enjoy it because one will soon go in to a cozy room in Borgarnes, with all the lights blazing. It’s a romantic image, though. This is Iceland. Here you can’t go in.

Out of the Corner of My Eye

So many photographs are posed in stillness, framed by contemplation, and drenched with light, yet light is not always about vision or seeing clearly, especially in an Icelandic winter, when it becomes a kind of water you swim through, an aether, the ancients would have called it. They meant the liquid eye that sees before the mind does and only lets the mind see a little of what touches it like a finger to a leaf.

This image of Eldborg on Snaefellsnes was made at 80 km/h on a late December dusk, out of the corner of my eye. There was no time to frame it, and before I registered it was there it was gone. What remains is the look it gave me, this drawing of my eye to it, that I had nothing to do with except trust. This watching haunts me.