While tourists are gazing in wonder at puffins…
…Icelanders are gazing in wonder at trees.
Bifröst: where Icelanders go to get away.
Because the light is so low in the winter, it is quite directional. When combined with light snow, it focusses the Earth most brilliantly.
A half hour north of Reykjavik, and you are already on a boat among the stars.
Tourism is an industry. Here are some industrial views of Kirkjufoss, the most-photographed mountain in Iceland.
Tour busses race past Kolgrafafjörður …
Why would you rush past such a dawn?
… to get you to it. If you go on December 24 (not in a tour bus. It will drive past), Kirkjufell might look like this at sundown:
Mind you, if you turn around, you might see other miracles:
Few do. There is no time. The 8 p.m. Aurora bus is waiting in Reykjavik, and it’s many hours and a world away. Besides, industrial images are soooooo seductive:
I don’t think this is quite how people in Grundarfjörður experience the mountain. This is certainly one way, though:
The Eastern Burbs
And this is another.
The forest walk from the campground in November.
Iceland is real.
The November view from town.
It takes time for a mountain to speak. You can’t force it.
Egil’s saga was set in Borg, one of the first points of settlement in Iceland 1100 years ago. Here is the view from Borg in November light these days, looking south towards Borgarnes (Borg’s Cape).
This is 1100 years of history in one glimpse.
Gunnar said there were ships in the sky, meaning clouds, but if you go to Iceland in the winter, you will find whole mountain ranges in the sky, that appear and disappear, created by the mountains out of the wind off the Atlantic.
They’re not exactly shadows and not exactly mirrors. They are amazingly alive. I suspect that the medium (the wind) does that. The image above is near Arnarstapi, on Snæfellsnes. The glacier is just around the corner: one of these clouds that stayed.
West of Grundarfjörður, the white of the world is carried low by the water.
East of town, the mountains don’t give of their world so lightly.
It’s as if the world is turned upside down. Only the water, I guess is right side up!
A cute lamb on Raudanes above Kollavik in the Þistilfjörður would appear far less cute if not for the warm colours of the July light just after mid-day, looking East.
It is so thick in the air, it’s as if you could scoop it up with your hands, or swim through it!
The thing about a midwinter trip to Iceland is that the bluer it gets, the more black becomes a shade of blue.
And the deeper it gets, the more it shines. It’s counter-intuitive, and inside out, and very cool to meet a colour you feel deep in your chest and suddenly realize that your whole body is an eye.
The foundational principle of Iceland is “settlement.” after 1100 years of it, we see that nothing has changed. In Olafsfjörður (for example), everything still comes from away.
And buildings are larger than they need to be. They too are settlements.
Even the driftwood, even the art, even the temporary housing made from shipping containers, comes from away.
Or so it seems to someone from away. However, to an Icelander, I think it comes from the world, which is synonymous with the sea.
And you can’t see it.
The result is Reykjavik.