Tag Archives: Lagarfljót

Winter Birdsong in East Iceland

 

Well, it’s freezing in Hallormstaðir, and the Lagarfljót isn’t, shall we say, a great place for swimming today, but while the weather stations are warning of heavy snow and ice ahead, let’s remember the ice of April, as it breaks on the shore with the music of a flock of 100,000 tiny birds. The ice is the birds, as it shatters and lifts, and refreezes and tilts and falls, and washes in on the waves, all written with the record of a year.

What wondrous runes telling of every moment the winter through.

It’s beginning now. If you go down to the lake, you might catch the first words, but do stay safe on those slick roads.

And if you can’t, well, there’s April, when the ice plays its recording, just once, in birdsong.

 

War Memorials in Iceland

In West Iceland, the aluminum plant in Hvalfjörður, which draws power from the dammed highlands, is watched over by the abandoned World War II fighter base that guarded the British Fleet, and which is now gone to the birds.

In East Iceland, the aluminum plant in Reydarfjörður draws power from Skaftafell, in the cloud at the height of the Lagarfljót, watched over by an abandoned horse-drawn manure spreader on the farm Gunnar bought to avoid the Second World War.

These too are the faces of war. In Iceland, which won its independence during the Second World War while its colonial masters in Denmark were occupied by the Germans, that war is honoured by double-edged memorials such as these.

What You Need Right Now Might Just Be an Icelandic Rock

After a long time between languages, it’s time to go down to the shore.

 

And pick up magic rocks and hold them in. your hand.

And put them down.

And leave them there to talk to the sun in their nonhuman tongues.

And walk back up through the library of the birch forest.

And the lair of dragons.

Give one last glance to the lake.

And go back to the skáldverk in silence.

And begin again.

The Tangled Relationship of Humans and Ravens

Humans, it is commonly said, live on Earth and ravens in the air. Not so in Iceland. Look below.

Humans: Hjarðaból

See that? The humans have a nice farm with lots of light and air, although they walk about on the land like old rocks. The ravens, though, who fly through the air with the greatest of flashiness, have a home deep in a dark, opened crack of the earth, where they hunker down. See it there? If not, I’ve highlighted it below.

Ravens: Stekkalækur

Humans and ravens: the perfect pair. Just ask Oðin.

 

April Light on the Lagarfljót

Ice contains wisdom, of the year behind and the opening wisdom of the year to come. You can see it in the perennial sunrise and sunset colours of winter, but. April brings brighter tones, while snow storms still take the rest of the world away. It’s breathtaking. Bring your camera. Go East in April.

Leave the crowded south and its tourbusses. The great secret of Iceland is that it’s everywhere on the whole island. You don’t have to go to the crowded places. You will find there a sense of honouring and ritual. Out in the simple places, where no one else goes, you will find your self.