I thought I’d look up from the Glacial Lagoon …
… show of humans being beautiful for themselves and for each other by posing (warmly) within luxurious images of humanly-initiated global climate change…
… to see what the glacier thought of all this. Ah, well, look, I’m glad it did. The cheeky thing…
… was sticking its tongue out at us! Just a tiny bit. Between compressed lips.
A tough choice, I know. Just a few kilometres apart, way out there on Snæfellsnes (so likely of the same species) there are the Ogres of Djúpalónsandur …
…wading together out into the storm…
…and just a few kilometres west, out at Dritvik… splashing in the waves …
…the Ogres of Dritvik, the now-abandoned Second City of Iceland, staring out into the open Atlantic.
But, hey, no problem. It’s always a good day to sit back and enjoy the sights.
But watch out!
We are not kidding about the magic. Or the storm.
The Deep Pools at Nautastigur are fresh on their surface and salt beneath.
If you follow the Nautastigur trail down to the beach (Djúpalónsandur), you will encounter a couple ogres…
….and around the corner an elvish church, but wait, not so fast. This mountain is alive as well.
Look at it facing you from across the water. A lake that is both salt water and fresh is surely a passage between worlds. And here’s the great thing: if you come on a tour bus, the mountain will hide its secrets.
Iceland is a society of cairns. Cairns are artificial humans made out of stacked-up skulls, which allow the living to find their way in the footsteps of those who came before. Here’s one in the Berserker Lava Fields.
Here’s one in Borg.
And an artful one in Reykjavik.
And back to the Berserker Lava Field, where a modern cairn, a 4×4, moves as the driver anticipates where you are going to be, but you have to show up there to find it. Unlike the others, it isn’t a visual cairn. It’s more like one or the whole body.
Skull training starts young. Here’s a pretty standard kid’s playground, with a build-it-yourself dragon.
The dragon you make yourself is not the one that’s going to hurt you.
If you head East from Þingvellir and reach the height of land, and the turn off to Laugarvatn, why not stop and wait for the sun? This is elf country. They just might show. What you are looking for are rainbows almost invisible as the sun disperses the mist like a breath.
And if they don’t show, waiting is also arrival. It all depends upon which country you arrive in. Care to try? You’ve got nothing to lose!
In Langadalur, you can find a country where humans can only exist as the companions of elemental powers. To walk here is to be utterly naked in the universe. To do so with a community of people is no help. You must enter with a community of things, and live within them until you have crossed. What the Icelanders have learned in 1100 years is that when the boat doesn’t come, you had better be good at making a new community of things.
You must halter yourself to the Earth, lest you are blown away. You could say that Gunnar returned to Iceland in 1939 because he loved his land, which is true, that he was romantic, which is also true, that he was afraid, which was reasonable in 1939, and you could say that this fold east of Bifrost is an instance of creativity, which is also true, but those are just words. You pick up the Earth one stone at a time, and move them to create a body that shelters you. It is your companion. It is yourself. From their to haunting is not far.
Here is Gunnar’s corner of Iceland. Snæfell in the distance calls the water out of the air, then sheds it and fills the valley floor with its watery self. The lake is the mountain.
And it is here in the spring, when you stand on the shore, you can hear the mountain talk to you through the ice as it is lifted and set down by the waves lifted and set down by the breath of the mountain. It sounds like a flock of joyous birds. Really. You should go. It’s worth the trip to hear it through the birch trees, to keep walking as it grows louder and louder, and then, well, to be right inside it.