Tag Archives: East Iceland

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.

The Secret of Álfaborg

You can go visit the elves in Borgarfjörður Estri, if you like.

Off to Álfaborg with you!

You can read all the magical traditions about this rock here: The Alfaborg Story.

Still, it would do your mind well to forget all that and go walking among the stone heads in the rain.

You will find magic enough as the fog rolls in.

As the contours of the land turn to air and water, you will  begin to feel like rain yourself.

Every stone takes on great significance as the sky vanishes.

And that’s the point. The fjords south of here have been abandoned. The weather is just too terrible. You are alone with rock. There is no sky, only earth that has become it, and maybe a homestead you can scratch together out of mud.

The stones, though, are a kind of sight. You see them because out of this dissolving world, they stand out. Birds use them to see. They are, in face, eyes, or islands of sight in the rain.

They are shelter. Whether they are rising from the earth or sinking into it, is not the point, because both are true at once.


On Álfaborg, one sees in at the same time one sees out. It is you who becomes the person of the stone, as you gain its vision, and see with more-than-human eyes.

Don’t even try to come home.

Baaaaaaad Icelandic Sheep Need No Sherpas

The newest shoot of grass growing on a bit of volcanic wasteland for the first time ever in the history of the world, that’s the one that tastes best to a sheep, and they will risk life and hoof to get it.

Marauders in Stekkalækur

They’re Icelandic, hence very independent. No sherpas needed.