Tag Archives: East Iceland

Winter Birdsong in East Iceland

 

Well, it’s freezing in Hallormstaðir, and the Lagarfljót isn’t, shall we say, a great place for swimming today, but while the weather stations are warning of heavy snow and ice ahead, let’s remember the ice of April, as it breaks on the shore with the music of a flock of 100,000 tiny birds. The ice is the birds, as it shatters and lifts, and refreezes and tilts and falls, and washes in on the waves, all written with the record of a year.

What wondrous runes telling of every moment the winter through.

It’s beginning now. If you go down to the lake, you might catch the first words, but do stay safe on those slick roads.

And if you can’t, well, there’s April, when the ice plays its recording, just once, in birdsong.

 

Farming the Hard Way

All farming is hard.

Abandoned Farm, Borgarfjörður Eystri

Everywhere. Here’s a farm in Wales.

Hayfield, Y Fron, Wales

And a farm in Canada.

New Orchard, Vernon, Canada

And a farm in Iceland. This one is still working!

Sturluflöt, Iceland

I think the last is the most beautiful. Team? What do you think?

Hmmm. It’s hard to say if they agree or not. Closer?

Ah. The silent type.

Sheep in the City

In Canada, the trail running across the foot of this face would have been made by deer, but in Iceland it’s made by sheep.

In Canada, this would be called wild land. In Iceland, it’s a farm. It is an intimate social and political space that turns wildness into civil life. In Canada, that is done as either an industrial or an aesthetic experience, capitalized and individual. Here it is just common space. In other words, this stretch of the Bessastaðaá is a city.

Getting into the Flow in East Iceland

Look at the Kelduá emerge from its valley. Here in the remote East, water turns to stone and back to water, and stone flows like water, then freezes, then breaks apart and flows like water again.

It is why a river in Iceland is an á: not a substance but a flow (aqua), not water but the energy that materializes as water and, as you can see, as stone. And jumbles them all up together. And breaks them apart. When you stand there and see beauty, it is that energy that you sense. The freezing energy, that is the business of frost. Keep your distance from that stuff! It’s lethal.

The Two Icelands (Well, Really Three)

 

There’s the pretty one.


Borgarfjörður Eystri

And across the street, the rusty one. All the fish are gone. Beautiful, though.

 

With ruins in the foreground.


And weird driftwood art.

Neither is Iceland, though. That’s something the Icelanders keep to themselves. What they present to you in its place are charms and gestures.

You know, stuff you remember from the world.