Tag Archives: glacier

Big Game in Iceland

Not elephants. Bigger. You can spot one in the distance, looming down on Höfn.

Papafjörður

We call them glaciers now, but, come on. Look at it! The Icelanders call them Jöklar. It’s an interesting word. Kayak is the same word. So is a jacket. So is, believe it or not, an ice floe, or even a little iceberg floating in the fjord. A white-capped wave is also the same word. Perhaps you can see the commonality. For a sea-going people, these are waves on the land, and what is a wave but a swell, a well or a welling, and, when it approaches land, a breaker. Look at it break up there! The Germans put it very well. To them, the line of waves breaking on a shore is a Brandung, a “burning.” If you wonder why, just light a fire then throw a bucket of water on it. That’s the spirit of these big spirit animals that haunt Iceland. Humans eke out an existence at their feet, always with a view into the other world. it is never far.

Snaefellsjökull, The Watcher

The volcano was an island-volcano off the coast, before a completely separate volcanic event raised a ridge of volcanoes out to meet it and then past it into the Atlantic. It watched them come.

It watched humans come, too. Some go there now to watch it. Others go to be watched by it. It measures the distance between those two points of view.

Looking Inside Snæfellsjökull

At the edge of night in December, at mid-afternoon, Snæfellsjökull reveals one of the depths of the interaction between Earth and the Sun: light is not the illumination that humans “see” but a glow set up within objects, with differing intensities. Some of these intensities are what humans call “dark.” Well, by that standard, it’s all dark.

Snæfellsjökull from Ingjaldshóllkirkja

Everything in the image above is receiving the same radiation from the sun, but all are speaking it differently. Here you can see how they are sorted out by the human eye, and how the mountain glows with no more intensity and no less mystery than the dark foreground lava hills. Mountains have an inside. You can see that here, at the point at which the light and dark meet.

Glacial Tongue @ the Global Warming Show

 

I thought I’d look up from the Glacial Lagoon …

… show of humans being beautiful for themselves and for each other by posing (warmly) within luxurious images of humanly-initiated global climate change…

… to see what the glacier thought of all this. Ah, well, look, I’m glad it did. The cheeky thing…

… was sticking its tongue out at us! Just a tiny bit. Between compressed lips.

Icelandic Art v. 1.0, with a bonus app thrown in: Ravens

Pattern, volume, mass, surface, light, line and shade. These expressions make up art. They are also representations of the human body.

Hrafnabjórg

(Home of ravens, too.)

Which is a creation of the earth’s body. Iceland feels like home because it is: whether on the veldt of Africa, the steppes of Asia, the prairies of North America or the glaciers of Europe, Asia and Canada, these basic forms, of our bodies laid out for us to walk through under the sky, are our oldest map. Wherever we are going, we are already there.

Leprechauns in Iceland? Yes!

So, here it is, Gulfoss, translated as “Golden Falls.”

The water, as you can see from its colour, comes from the glacier. No gold there.

And the gold? Well, at settlement 55% of Icelanders were Irish women dragged along against their will and making the most of it. I suspect a leprechaun or two came along, because leprechauns like to hide a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, and, well…

You are virtually promised to see a rainbow at Gulfoss. Don’t try for the pot of gold, though. It’s dangerous down there where the river disappears into the earth. Fairyland, they call that.

Maybe a trip to the glacier? Much safer.

Langjökull

And what is a glacier? Why, just look at it: white gold, of course.

Welcome to a World of Light

It is easy…

 

… to be distracted …

…by ice …

… and its romantic stories of loss and the fleeting nature of experience…

… and to miss the light …

… and the darkness …

… together …

… in the eye.

Glaciers come from another world.

It is a world of light.

~

Jokulsárlón and Skaftafell