Tag Archives: Nature

Paradise Falls: Little Jewel of the Whale Fjord

When you turn off onto Road 5001 at the head of the Havalfjörður to visit the high waterfall Glymur, make note of the gravel parking area to your left. When you come back soggy and disappointed that Glymur is unattainable because of bad weather and high water and muck, why not stop and hike a hundred metres up the stream to Paradisarfoss? She’s a pretty little one, with a fine little forest of wild birches. You need never be disappointed in Iceland.

By Icelandic standards, that’s a very good trail there.

Well worth the trip! And no, this was not sunset. And, yes, the sky was that pink. It was just November 5, that’s all, when a stroll through the rain is like a walk through laughter.

Everyone Can be a Faded Polaroid at the Harpa and Dance with Yoko Ono Now

There is beautiful light in Iceland…

.

… and I mean really beautiful light …

… but tourism survives on images, so the great opera hall, the Harpa, allows anyone to view others as if they are in a faded Polaroid shot from the 1970s …

… or an Agfa shot from the 1960s.

This retro thing, this notion of quoting the landscape in the very moment one observes it, is something the Icelanders learned in graduate school in New York, London and Berlin. It’s charming, but remember …

… every wave that goes to sea in Skagafjörður leaves behind a space for beautiful light. It’s like the sun is right there, you know.

Hólar in the Spring

It is.

The Importance of the Colour White in Iceland

Look, the place is nature, right? And that’s a painting genre and its cultural extensions, so you need white, to balance things.

Fossvellir

White sheep to the left, white sheep to the right, and white hay up close. They all balance the white of the falls. It maintains visual interest and balance. What is a painting without that, eh!

Mysterious, Humbling, Inhuman Iceland

Welcome to the Black Falls, Svartifoss.

I really think no words have ever been created for this, but talking around its edges for weeks would be enjoyable. I think the lichen gets it.

I know the raven does.

Don’t expect your tour operator to tell you about this. It’s not a human thing, and it’s their job to be a good host and look after your bodily comforts. Bodily discomforts, well, that’s for you to find out on your own.


It is not a human world.

Two Views of Nature in Iceland

Nature today is the process of waiting around for a moment of surprise. This hour at Geysir, is a good example.

The jolt of excitement it gives (essentially the breaking of your self-imposed exile from self in the act of waiting) especially if viewed in a crowd against which you can measure your response, is then called the power of the natural world. It is the age of advertising, psychology and science.

Half a century ago, nature was much closer. You lived in it.

It was an age of art. As a result, nature was conceived as a painting, which would then influence its observers in both spiritual and practical ways.

Well, it has grown now, as these tree plantations show. This shaping can still continue and is one of the reasons why art must be defended and continually reinvented in conversation with the earth. It is always waiting. Sometimes you just have to turn around.

Yes, But is it Nature?

The sheep of Iceland, bless them, have eaten the place down to rock.

The Icelandic government pays farmers to plant trees.On farms no-one lives on anymore. Along a river diverted to a hydroelectric dam one valley over. Sturluflöt

This was the old road to the south. That was a farm to the left. Below the stone. It would support the trees growing on the scree in the back, but farmers are farmers the world over.

þorgerðarstaðir

They just don’t trust trees. Or rivers. Sheep, they like sheep. So they herd trees, They put them out to pasture.And that’s nature in Iceland: a project made out of sheep, government subsidy and resistance, often all at once. Oh, and depopulation. Iceland is an urban country. Rather than being nature, the land is a kind of ruin. Brrr.Everyone, time to go home. You can so farm a city, just not on work days.

That nature stuff is for tourists.