Since the raven and her mate circled around all the time, keeping an eye on things, one day at Skriðuklaustur, when the geese arrived to wait for spring, I sat down on a hill and waited to catch the raven, framed by the geese! What fun! Gunnar’s house is a happening place, out there in East Iceland, I tell ya!
Alas, I failed. While I was waiting, the geese kind of waddled around honking a bit and closed my frame, and the raven was, well, quick! So, not centred. Well, ravens and humans are like that, eh. I’m thinking that the geese are not amused by either of us
The Icelanders are very clever. They put up a picnic site on top of the hill above Seyðisfjörður, to allow travellers to get their bearings after the steep climb out of the fjord and before the steep drop down into Egilsstaðir. That’s the kind part. The clever part is the picnic sign, as you can see.
See that? Travellers coming off the ferry from Europe get a chance to use up all their stickers at once, in one spot, and then that’s that. Done.
This is the height of summer. You might not want to linger long up here.
For the capital city of the queen of the elves in downtown Bakkagerði, it’s a bit of a lump. Still, humans look up to it.
Meanwhile, elves look down.
This change in perspective seems to be species specific. Here’s a view of another one of the elf hills in the fjord.
Same rule applies. Humans look up. Elves look down. And yet, if you climb the Alfaborg, you’ll meet many images of elves cast by your mind and stone at the same time, so you can’t really tell the difference. Here’s one.
Not really looking down or up at the one-to-one level. I think this is called the theory of relativity, invented by Icelanders long before Einstein got to it.
This ewe and her lamb appear to have a mixed breed thing going on.
This is deliberate. The best mother is given a lamb or two to care for, even if she has lost hers, and even if she doesn’t have one at all. Good mothering has sure paid off for this lamb. Looking well cared for and plump!
In 1914, local boy Johannes Kjarval was starving. Ladies in town asked him to paint an altar for the Bakkagerðiskirkja, the Bakkagerthi Church. He’d spent his childhood herding sheep on the mountain and dreaming of elves, so he painted Christ giving the Sermon on the Mount on the Alfaborg, the elf city behind the church, with all the townsfolk listening, elves and humans.
It has yet to be consecrated by any bishop! But if you go to visit it today, you can see his Iceland still. The elves have been replaced by tourists in campers, and the church remains in darkness, as all good Icelandic interiors are, with 1,000 years of turf houses in their memory.
The Icelandic subconscious lives in a darkness warmed by human presence and looks out through small windows into the light, which is the Earth and not the sun. It’s simply the way it is.