Tag Archives: Dritvik

A Mini Guide to Sea Room and Lagoon

Here is a social space in Reykjavik that’s not a park, a street, a building or a yard full of old rowan trees and mystery. It’s more mysterious yet. This is what the people of the north of the world call The Sea Room.

And on Snaefellsnes? Yes, there’s one there, too.

And in the far north, too.

Note that the Sea Room has few boundaries. It has a sense of being open, with a free flow out to the open ocean, which it is nonetheless separated from by a sense of space. Compare that to a lagoon in the East.

In comparison to Sea Room, a lagoon is bounded by land. And below. Na, that’s a river mouth in the south.

Nope, a Sea Room is special. You can live there, in a world within the world. So, let’s try it again… Sea Room?

Nope. River mouth. And below, what of it? Sea Room?

Nope, a river flow through a lagoon, with the open Atlantic trying to get in. Now, that’s fun. Ok, what about the view below at Dritvik?

Nope, that’s just the sea. You enter it when you leave the sea room. And below?


Nope, sad to say. That’s a field in Breiðafjörður. This is Iceland. it’s tricky. And below, in Skagafjörður?Yes! You got it! And below, at Buðir?
Atlantic again? Yup. And here’s Dritvik? Is that a Sea Room? No, it’s an ogre and her ogre whale pet in a bay at dusk, in the rain, looking out to sea. But here’s the thing, in Iceland men rowed way out there in little wooden boats and hauled in cod, far from land in storm. They made a room of the sea, a portable one, centred on their boat, just as their island is centred in the sea. That flexibility remains in the country.

It is known now as memory. 

Or is it?

Forever on Guard for Iceland

While we’ve been chatting, the ogress of Dritvik has been keeping guard to the west. p1350855

Day in and day out, in darkness and light, with a cormorant on her head, or not, she has been guarding against the formlessness that comes in off the sea.  With her troll whale companion. Never heard of a troll whale? Go to Dritvik.

p1350841

Together, they watch out, for us.

p1350822

This is vitally important work. I give thanks.

What Every Icelandic Sheep Could Tell You

I’ve been thinking about walls. What are they for? For shelter, yes, and seemingly to keep sheep in, or out, but into or out of what? I mean, look at the pastures under the Snaefells Glacier.

p1380546

There’s precious little for sheep in the neighbouring pastures below, and any shepherd is likely to break a leg stomping after sheep in this stuff, and why? There’s as little grass on one side as on the other.dritvikwall

Assuming that in the past Icelandic farmers were as sensible and economical with their energy as any others, might there be a reasonable, but lost explanation? Could the walls be to direct sheep, not to make pasture but so that they herded themselves, a kind of large sheep fold, like the one at the edge of the lava (below)?

p1380448

Driftwood helps. Is drifting the principle here? To reap the benefits of summer labour in the winter, when labour is just too exposed on the open earth?

p1380464_2

Or is it to direct the snow, to bare some slopes for sheep and to bury others with snowdrifts, to provide fresh water in the spring and early summer? It could be. I don’t know.

drifted

 

It wasn’t a fence to guide human walkers in the fog and the dark. Cairns were used for that.

p1380775

Might it have been to separate the fields by the shore from the fields by the mountain…

p1350699

… to keep sheep from drifting away from survival food, winter’s seaweed…

p1350933

Sheep Pasture at Dritvik

…into perilous holes in the lava?

p1380860

Is it, in other words, about thinking with the land? Is this the wealth that Gunnar Gunnarsson said was at the heart of poverty? Is this an extension of the principle “when you run out of hay anything is hay, anything at all” to land itself, on the lines of “when you run out of pasture anything is pasture,” even if it is only an extension of the poverty of one man over another? Could this be love of land?

p1310618

In a country in which only a landowner could wed and have children, the impetus to own any kind of land, in any kind of poverty whatsoever, must have been intense. Is that what we’re looking at here? Love?

p1380569

The stubbornness not to disappear of a people from whom the benefits of community were continually removed, often by foreign traders?

p1370090

Is drift a way of holding on by bending the way a path goes? I don’t know. Is it still going on?

p1330218

Is this the principle of drift? Are some fences made of the mind and duty?p1330714

Is this how 1,500,000 tourists are safely guided through the cold every year by a few hundred front line Icelanders?

wetpair

I bet the sheep know.

 

The Ogre of Dritvik is Still Waiting

The sun goes up and down, we’ve had a sandwich or two, storms have come in and out, but the Ogre of Dritvik is still out there. She never stops waiting.

p1350987

This energy that has been frozen in stone has more than human endurance, even though it is human observation that gives it bodily life. Here are the bits of her that time has worn away:

pebbles

That is pure Ogre, that is. It squeaks under your feet, calling out its name: “Pebble.” You can pick it up in your hand. Suddenly you are holding stillness. The whole energy of the volcano that made this coast is in your hand. Will you throw it out to sea? Will you hold it? Will you set it down? In this moment of stillness you become the world. The question all of us who have touched her ask is: What then?

friend

It’s a good thing we’re not alone in the rain as we try to figure it out, because that might, ultimately, be the answer.

wetpair

Don’t be alone in the rain.

lone

What are we waiting for?

 

The Secret to Iceland’s Football Success

So, you want to play football. Or soccer. Call it what you like, but there are obstacles to overcome.  Take the town of Hellisanður, for example. Just finding a football pitch is a challenge. p1350586

You’re liable to throw a hoof, too.

p1350591

Well, no point in crying the blues.  Stop thinking about the volcano. Easy, boys.

p1380168

It’s time to roll up the wool sweater and start looking. Football waits for no lava lump.

p1350597

Aha!

p1350610

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it. Tucked away out of the wind, with a view from the pulpit.

p1350624

On some days, I tell ya, you don’t need an opposing team. You’re playing against 35 metre per second winds off of the North Atlantic and the monsters that throws up onto the shore.

p1350838

But, wait, what’s this…

p1350618

Elvish fans!

p1350598

A crowd, actually.

p1350613

Analyzing your every move.
p1350623

Every error is mourned naturally, without holding back.p1350622

Every victory is cheered, wildly.p1350621It’s not a game. It’s a world.
p1350619

It’s not just played with a ball. It’s multi-dimensional. It knits together the dimensions. It’s shared.

p1350636

Just stop thinking about the volcano.

p1380231

That’s all.

 

 

 

The Harbour Master of Dritvik

For almost four hundred years, hundreds of men camped at Dritvik, on the extreme west coast of Iceland, for the spring fishery, and set out in tiny wooden boats into the open North Atlantic. On a ferocious, rough coast, this troll sat in the sea and made a safe harbour. For hundreds of years he looked out to them at sea and when the men came home they came in on the beams of his gaze.p1350857

He is still watching, still making the harbour, still waiting, and whatever is out there on the Atlantic is still coming in — just not men, and fish. He’s not alone. Trolls rarely are. They are herdsmen, after all. Turn around slowly. You are being watched.

sheep