Tag Archives: Icelandic purslane

The Out of This World Lichens of Iceland and their Gardeners

When cliff faces are too cold, lichen can do just fine by growing in a tension with heat conserving mosses.
But tufts of arctic grass gnawed to mounds by sheep work just as well. Look how purslane, grass, moss and lichens all work together to create a balanced environment, conserving heat, gathering rain, relatively impervious to sheep, and even collecting soil ot of the wind. Clumps like these, and there are billions of them in Iceland, are like reefs on a continental shelf, or miniature planets in the cold of space. The missing co-conspirators? Ah…

 

The Red Leaves of Good Friday

It is a sacred day here at Skriðuklaustur. Gunnar Gunnarsson, who built it, was a Christian man who wandered from his country and his faith and returned to them. While I work through some tangled and difficult material about his life, in his honour I would like to offer this post from my Canadian blog, okanaganokanogan.com, as a meditation on the meaning of this day and the blessing I feel to be here for it. Here are the thoughts that began my day: I am rediscovering old words and worlds here in Iceland. I can’t take the country home to Canada, but I can take this…

heathercarpet

Spring Colours at Littlifoss, Lagarfljotsdalur

An inspiration for weavers and dyemakers.

“Take” is a word that has lost its charm to become possessive in modern English: in the most common sense, to “take” something today is to make it one’s own, to remove it from other people, and even to steal it. It is what settler culture did to the indigenous cultures of the place, the ones that understood the earth and how to work with it, and is what they are left with. The word, however, has the possibility for renewal and grace, and I think we should take that and run with it. A secondary usage of the word today is to “take” a picture — not in the sense of capturing and entrapping a soul or any other ancient alchemical bondage, but in the sense of “choosing” it, of finding the one most beautiful, directing the eye, the mind, and the heart to it, and honouring it by presenting it to others, like a posy of flowers that does not have to die in order to be presented to one’s true love. Today is Good Friday here in Iceland. In the language of Christian faith, if I may, look how the earth is bleeding and softening the thorns around Christ’s head…

thymestones

Icelandic Purslane, in its Rare Red Form

Melarett, Iceland

That is the one that has taken root here (to use a yet deeper sense of the word). I am taken by it (to use a deeper one yet.) I hope that in this sacred season, whatever your faith, you can take (!) a moment to wander out into the weaving of the world and be taken by it, for a moment, or forever. Blessings from Skriðuklaustur. Harold.