Tag Archives: nature photography

Chance Sightings of the Sun

 

If you head East from Þingvellir and reach the height of land, and the turn off to Laugarvatn, why not stop and wait for the sun? This is elf country. They just might show. What you are looking for are rainbows almost invisible as the sun disperses the mist like a breath.

And if they don’t show, waiting is also arrival. It all depends upon which country you arrive in. Care to try? You’ve got nothing to lose!

Another Reason to Leave Reykjavik: Learning the Language of Water

If you stay in Reykjavik, vodka’s the thing. Drink that stuff and you might forget where you are.

But if you go halfway to the complete opposite end of the country, the water speaks at last, not with a bottle but with the words that grow still on the very bottom edge of the sky:

Lagarfljót, April

Your choice, between a bar full of travellers and the voices of trolls. Flights to Egilstaðir are cheap. Just $120 return. You could drop three times that much, just having dinner and drinks with a friend in town. Off you go.

 

The Mountain Twice

Snæfell, the great mountain of East Iceland (not to be confused with Snæfell, the great mountain of West Iceland), is rarely seen. She cloaks herself in weather.

Gunnar’s House is just above lake level (and just past the lake), pretty much in the centre of the image.

She is always present, however, not just in the cloud she gathers to herself out of the living air but also in the Lagarfljót, the lake that fills the valley below her. There you can walk along the shore of the water she collects out of the sky. Snæfell is one of the great transformers — much like a great white raven, really.

The True Inspiration for Icelandic Architecture, Promise

Here’s a turf house window in Iceland. You’ll still find a few here and there. Wonder where the idea came from?

Wonder no longer.

Of course, that’s old architecture. The new stuff is, like, modern and all. Or maybe not. Here are some apartments in Reykjavik, and the elf stone in front of them, where no developer was allowed to build, because it was already occupied, and you don’t want to mess with magical rocks. Where did that idea come from?

From Snæfellsnes, that’s what. All that’s happened is that people finally got the upper hand and build houses taller than the magical rocks.

That’s simple enough, but what about finer architectural features, such as the red windows below on Laugavegur in Reykjavik. Tough one, eh?

Not at all. We just need to go to the Fljotsdalur in the East and all is revealed.

See, two red panels. Nice. Fine, but what about the really tough ones, like the Harpa concert hall?

Pshaw, nothing to it. I guess you didn’t go quite far enough out on Snæfellsnes. Here you go.

And the Harpa:

See? You can be in and out at the same time. That’s the ticket. Now, about the modern brutalism that graces the city…

… well, not modern at all. You can see its model at Ásbyrgi, in the far North.

Oh, one more time. This time, note the air conditioner…

Nice, eh. Where, oh where, does that come from? Again, the far North.

Well, just imagine the building as a flat rather than a height and you’ll see it. It is a crazy island, but if you hang around it long enough it will come into focus.

Book Laundry in Reykjavik

(Other countries launder money, but Icelanders have learned their lessons about messing with crazy stuff like that.)

 

 

Homecoming in Iceland

This year I will be going to Iceland for my fifth time. People are already making fun. “Why don’t you go somewhere new?” they ask. “It’s a big world.”

Yes, but the bay above called to me. Without seeing it, I suddenly drove off the road, parked in a meadow and started walking into the wind. Soon, I crested a headland and was here. Soon after that, I discovered that the beach was watching me as closely as I was watching it.

Seeing new things often means going home.  The land welcomes one with speech, when one is patient and listens.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Gunnar

 

Gunnar argued for the independence of Iceland during Germany’s military struggles of the 1940s, on the principle that the land is written in the chain-linked patterns of the Icelandic sagas, with the suggestion that the Icelanders wrote the sagas in response to the chain-link rhymes of the land.

Grundarfjördur

His observation is obvious. Equally obvious is how poor a tool such observations are for deflecting a military conqueror. Less obvious is the point that when you are from the land and have nothing and yet have to do something, you use what you have. Still, the approach has its dangers. It might stress one form of pattern, for instance, but it obscures another. So, let’s look at Gunnar’s saga again. This time, note the story of trolls and ogres written in the rock.

Gunnar was a humanist, a twentieth century man. This tale of ogres and epic battles is one he could have told as well, including how it generates the water of life as cold passes into warmth. That he didn’t is an example of how writers adapt to their audience. It is also an example of how we can re-read them, and free them… and us.