For elves. Very modern elves.
In elf country, off in Borgarfjörður Eystri, you can never be sure. Is it a cat? A mouse? A cat and a mouse? Elves playing at both? Or a whole elvish family, complete with cat and mouse, all sharing a long tail?
It was in these dells that the boy Johannes Kjarval herded sheep and slowly became a painter.
Note the cool self-assurance by which the non-human actors make the real statement in the scene.
Note the fragile sense of vulnerability of modernity and the troubled gaze out of class, strengthened by class achievement yet never certain.
Note the deliberate dissemination of confusion. You are being led around by people who have been herdsmen and fishermen for 1100 years, after all. As Margret told me last summer, you never know who is the elf and who is the human. You never know,.
Note how Icelanders dress as the visitors do to make everybody comfortable with these arrangements.
Funky, eh. Yeah, well, be strong.
Or blend in.
It’s one of the prettiest waterfalls in Iceland, twisting like hair, and blessed with elves.
Perhaps you can see their queen bathing below the pool? She will meet you on the banks of the Selfljót, under Ósfjall, if she wishes. Before there was sculpture made to delight the eye, which sorts information before it reaches the brain …
… there was the delight of the eye in landscape. The thinking self comes later. First, one is a body.
Some people just don’t get it about elves, not to mention trolls and ogres, and think that these creatures have to be empirically present or not exist at all. With that kind of thinking, they just won’t see an elf or look into the other realm. However, if you go to the Buðahraun on Midsummer Night, you will find elves in every collapsed volcanic hollow, in wondrous variety.
Every is a doorway, through which the other world spills. Usually these are dangerous places, but on Midsummer Night they are full of delights, and then the worlds begin to fall out of alignment again.
The old ones, the new ones, lost farms, invasive (but strangely beautiful) lupines on old farmland on old dunes, old fence lines of social power, new power lines of social relativity, the sea at your side, the mountains at your back, isn’t it great to be in a place where nothing is forgotten and nothing need be spoken of because it can be relied upon in the midnight sun?
Let’s not break the spell.
The Deep Pools at Nautastigur are fresh on their surface and salt beneath.
If you follow the Nautastigur trail down to the beach (Djúpalónsandur), you will encounter a couple ogres…
….and around the corner an elvish church, but wait, not so fast. This mountain is alive as well.
Look at it facing you from across the water. A lake that is both salt water and fresh is surely a passage between worlds. And here’s the great thing: if you come on a tour bus, the mountain will hide its secrets.
If you head East from Þingvellir and reach the height of land, and the turn off to Laugarvatn, why not stop and wait for the sun? This is elf country. They just might show. What you are looking for are rainbows almost invisible as the sun disperses the mist like a breath.
And if they don’t show, waiting is also arrival. It all depends upon which country you arrive in. Care to try? You’ve got nothing to lose!