One thing that makes Iceland dramatically beautiful is that its culture and landscape look like they were just plunked there recently and haven’t really taken yet.
That’s what you get after 1100 years of cultural replacement in response to environmental erosion. With very few exceptions, the buildings are less than a century old. With very few exceptions, the living landscapes are far younger. A century ago, the scrub above would have looked much like the outwash plain below it. The people, whose memory is longer, are in a constant state of change, unsettlement and resettlement, just as it was when they first arrived, a little over 1100 years ago. Settlement was the originating impulse, but it was driven by men, who felt unsettled in Norway. These tensions are still written in every moment of the land.
In the North East of Iceland, there is a cape with Eidars and puffins, called Raudanes, or Red Cape. “Nes” is an old term for a nes, or nose, of land, in the same way that mountains have shoulders, backs and arms, continents have icecaps, mountains have jökulls, as the Icelanders say, little jackets of ice, little land-based icebergs, or glaciers, and seacoasts, like mountains, have caps, or heads. On the coast, these caps are capes, in English, and they often have noses.
This is the nose of Red Nose itself. One notes that it is a dragon. Now, how fine is that!
Up here in North Iceland, with the cities far away, one makes one’s own fun. When you tire of the Spot the Gull game, you can start in on the spot the troll nest game, which is just as much fun.
After all, Gunnar Gunnarsson moved to Denmark and became a writer, not precisely in that order, because he was given a walnut for Christmas, and raced its shell down the parsonage stream, imagining it was a big sailing ship. So, if little Gunnar could do it, we can look more closely, too.
I wouldn’t play this game in Reykjavik, though. They might think it kind of country bumpkinish. As they thought Gunnar was.