We climbed Orrustuhóll, or Battle Hill, west of the convent and east of the Black Falls…
… and there in the lush green full of spirits ….
…in the midst of a harsh lava field …
… we found the elves’ horses.
This is another hiking site in Iceland that was popular in the Golden Age of the 1950s, one of the ones that made a trip on the new Ring Road a trip through national pride. Now there is room for one car to park off the road. A million tourists a year (well, maybe not this year or last) drive past, just as the elves would like it. I am honoured to have been invited and let in.
Out on the hraun, you are living in the open universe. The Earth’s shadow was amazing, that we left, not towards the golden light shining from across Breidafjördur, but into the shadow, deeper and deeper. It was like swimming in the sky.
It’s not just in Snæfellsnes. It’s everywhere, really: clods of earth like curds in whey on the ground, glopped out of volcanoes, more made with a plow and seeded with pasture grass, and glops of earth in the sky, called clouds, that shade the earth like stone and make you pull a sweater around your shoulders and look up to the fields of the air.
Clods of Earth Falling from the Sky
The old saying, mocked by the Christian parable Chicken Little, which laughs at a chicken who imagines that the sky is falling, of all things, is given its original context if you stop driving around in Iceland and stand still long enough to become the wind, where the old words aren’t old. Iceland is always full of surprises like this.
This is the original world of the islands of the north that gave us the capacity of speech, and if we call only tilled soil clods now, while the ones from volcanoes are called lava and the ones in the air are called condensations of water under pressure regimes, we still draw a sweater over our shoulders when a cloud obscures the sun.