The birch forests of Ásbyrgi are not passable, except slowly and in no direction not directed by the trees.
The words for human bodies come from trees like this: body, belly, bone, arm, branch, and so on. Only after these properties were named were the names applied to humans. Before that, our ancestors saw only the trees. In that sense, we are the hidden people, just as much as we are the boughs, beams, trunks and bodies reaching here.
We went to Seyðisfjörður to visit the dwarf church, one of our favourite places in Iceland, but sadly it is no longer accessible except by boat. However, we had the good fortune to walk down to the beach at Skardsvik, on the complete other side of the country, and there was a whole dwarf fortress. Hurrah!
Here’s the gate.
Note the red stone to the right of the opening.
And some of the finer details…
I really love the next one.
Here it is close up.
Always leave a gift. I left a pink flower, as I had no coins in my pocket. (Always carry coins in your pocket. That’s a new rule.) And then, on the road again:
In this way, the land is never empty. In this way, the land is always a gift and never full.
Some lava lumps are too powerful to be placed in a wall.
Óndverðarnes in Snæfellsjökull National Park
This is one worthy of being placed in the Icelandic folk song (and Gunnar’s book) Vikivaki, which is a dance with the dead. The point is that they are not dead. Not really.
I mentioned the dragons of Rauðhóll a few days back. Here’s another.
This one is hunting elf sheep. The bright, emerald-green patch in the dragon’s mouth is the sheep’s fleece, and another elf sheep forms its eye. It is, in other words, possible to be attacked by a dragon, and survive. You might, however, be held in its thrall for a few thousand years.
On Midsummer Eve Day, we climbed Rauðhóll (Red Hill.) I was enchanted by all the dragons still coming to live in this new tephra cone. Here’s the first one that caught my eye. Many dozens followed. I was surrounded!
I was fascinated by how each leg or wing of the dragon was a dragon of its own. That’s some very deep, persistent dragon-ness! It’s a beautiful volcanic site, too.
It builds for days…
A dragon curled around its flame.
(Its right eye is just below the middle of the image. This image and the ones of transformed rocks and flowers that follow are taken on Rauðhóll.)
…with flowers bringing stones to life…
An Elf with a Crown of Flowers
… sometimes in humanly-recognizable form…
The Horse Sleipnir Carrying þor as a One-Eyed Moon on Its Back
… and sometimes not (which is the most amazing part) …
.. but then, in the low, late evening light on June 21, the hills rise up around you in the horizontal light. It’s just that night. The next morning they begin to ebb away, not all at once, but you can notice the difference. On midsummer night, though…
… you truly live between worlds and can see the past and future. Lest you feel special, just remember, the sheep see this all the time.
Life is indeed good.
A camper promises freedom but on narrow roads can be a liability.
Just another second on Highway 1 east of Vík í Myrdal in the new Iceland
Where are you going to stop? Not with the elf birds.
You already passed them an hour ago, or you will an hour from now.
An Elf in His Horse Pasture
The real trick is to find both of those times to be the same.