Tag Archives: forests

Yes, But is it Nature?

The sheep of Iceland, bless them, have eaten the place down to rock.

The Icelandic government pays farmers to plant trees.On farms no-one lives on anymore. Along a river diverted to a hydroelectric dam one valley over. Sturluflöt

This was the old road to the south. That was a farm to the left. Below the stone. It would support the trees growing on the scree in the back, but farmers are farmers the world over.

þorgerðarstaðir

They just don’t trust trees. Or rivers. Sheep, they like sheep. So they herd trees, They put them out to pasture.And that’s nature in Iceland: a project made out of sheep, government subsidy and resistance, often all at once. Oh, and depopulation. Iceland is an urban country. Rather than being nature, the land is a kind of ruin. Brrr.Everyone, time to go home. You can so farm a city, just not on work days.

That nature stuff is for tourists.

Iceland’s Lonely Shrines

Groves like the one below are ever-present in Iceland. They are a cross between a will to live, a claim to land, a museum and a graveyard. They are houses for both the living and the dead, on the sites of old turf houses. Almost every farm has one.p1340417

They are places of deep feeling, loss, and connection. A cathedral in France or Germany is a more expensive form of this same art form, but no more permanent, just as these groves are worthy of no less honour and respect. They are, in a sense, what viking ships become after 1000 years.