Tag Archives: Land

Don’t Be a Stranger in Iceland

Public access to beautiful things in Iceland, including stunning waterfalls like Hengifoss…

…is privately maintained and crosses private land at private expense.

The Way Back from the Falls is a Great Journey Too

So if the trail is muddy, give thanks. It was given to you as a gift. To be respectful, stay on it.

It’s a way of giving thanks and preparing the way for the next traveller.

Of Humans and Power

Most humans, unfamiliar with the Earth, try to get as close to her power as possible.

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They will find each other, but will be powerless. Iceland is currently financing itself on this illusion, based on a thousand-year-old tradition of hospitality. The land’s hospitality reveals itself when you turn away and walk for, oh, ten minutes into the earth.

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There are also ancient traditions of Icelanders reading this mixed landscape of water, volcanoes and wind. Keeping the tradition alive has never been so important or, under the business, so difficult.

What Are We Looking At?

Yesterday, I surmised that the Nordic eye that is neither thought nor memory, and thus not consciousness, is the body, looking out, and asked what it was that we are looking at with that eye. I suggested vision, a presence of being rendered physical.

If that is what we are looking at, it is quite foreign to the contemporary world. Today, human eyes look out to see the social, at all times.

But in a one-eyed landscape, is it really social, or is that just a contemporary, North American word placed on a far different manner of presence?

At any rate, it’s quite different from a human/non-human relationship of being, such as Iceland-outside-of-Reykjavik:

But, here’s the question: is that relationship social, too? But not “social” in terms of human-to-human interactions? 

And so, we come, as we seem to always do, to another question: if there is a non-human social relationship, what is it with, or, perhaps better put, what is a human social relationship when it includes non-peoples?

And what does that say about interhuman social relationships? Something to dream about overnight!

Sheep Don’t Forget

The farm is gone …

…but the sheep still come, hefted to the mountain …

… and to the sea. (To them, the road is nothing.)

The sheep of the sea? Ah yes, these are stone farms.

Very tasty.

Winter barely has a grip on the Reydarfjörður shore.

But… sheep of the sea? Is that correct?

No, they are oyster catchers of the land!

If we moved back, they’d still be there to receive us.

 

 

How the Land and the Sea Create Men

In the understanding of people who live off their land, water is not a substance but an expression of the live-giving quality of slopes with certain qualities: not to collect water, exactly, but to amass it, like gravity. It is this coming together of forces which is water.
watersea An ocean is a different thing altogether. It, too, is not water, but, if the expression of a water out of the land can teach anything, I think it’s that the image below is identical to the one above, with one exception: in the image above, the ocean below is transformed by the lens of the land into the concentration of energy called water.lone

This ocean, Gunnar Pointed Out, is the great sea of undifferentiated life and death. They are only sorted by passage through a shore.

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In effect, this passage is the same one created by the forms of the land that created the small lake above the sea I showed you above. Here it is again, so you can compare.

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The product is the same: you are looking at human life being formed by the land.

What Every Icelandic Sheep Could Tell You

I’ve been thinking about walls. What are they for? For shelter, yes, and seemingly to keep sheep in, or out, but into or out of what? I mean, look at the pastures under the Snaefells Glacier.

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There’s precious little for sheep in the neighbouring pastures below, and any shepherd is likely to break a leg stomping after sheep in this stuff, and why? There’s as little grass on one side as on the other.dritvikwall

Assuming that in the past Icelandic farmers were as sensible and economical with their energy as any others, might there be a reasonable, but lost explanation? Could the walls be to direct sheep, not to make pasture but so that they herded themselves, a kind of large sheep fold, like the one at the edge of the lava (below)?

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Driftwood helps. Is drifting the principle here? To reap the benefits of summer labour in the winter, when labour is just too exposed on the open earth?

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Or is it to direct the snow, to bare some slopes for sheep and to bury others with snowdrifts, to provide fresh water in the spring and early summer? It could be. I don’t know.

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It wasn’t a fence to guide human walkers in the fog and the dark. Cairns were used for that.

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Might it have been to separate the fields by the shore from the fields by the mountain…

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… to keep sheep from drifting away from survival food, winter’s seaweed…

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Sheep Pasture at Dritvik

…into perilous holes in the lava?

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Is it, in other words, about thinking with the land? Is this the wealth that Gunnar Gunnarsson said was at the heart of poverty? Is this an extension of the principle “when you run out of hay anything is hay, anything at all” to land itself, on the lines of “when you run out of pasture anything is pasture,” even if it is only an extension of the poverty of one man over another? Could this be love of land?

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In a country in which only a landowner could wed and have children, the impetus to own any kind of land, in any kind of poverty whatsoever, must have been intense. Is that what we’re looking at here? Love?

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The stubbornness not to disappear of a people from whom the benefits of community were continually removed, often by foreign traders?

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Is drift a way of holding on by bending the way a path goes? I don’t know. Is it still going on?

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Is this the principle of drift? Are some fences made of the mind and duty?p1330714

Is this how 1,500,000 tourists are safely guided through the cold every year by a few hundred front line Icelanders?

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I bet the sheep know.

 

The Sea is A Living Thing

aliveMeeting Life Itself, Skagafjörður

All the rest? The trees, the horses, the humans, the cod, the arctic terns, the chickens? They are all carrying a replica of life within them, but the sea is life itself. Instead of saying “life”, we could just say “sea”. And the land? Ah, now, now that is a story of humans and other people. I’ll tell it tomorrow. Here’s a hint to haunt your dreams while the night falls and the sun rises again …

e1Elf Stone, Goðafoss