Man, the thought of having a wall of basalt and a cinder cone in my backyard, I tell you, nothing could be better.
If you don’t drive too quickly and get off Highway 1, you’ll find it. It’s a poor, poor farm, but, as Gunnar said, poverty is wealth, because everything the land gives comes straight from faith, as a gift, and gifts are not to be laughed away.
In the time of Gunnar’s youth, 120 years ago, the pile of stones in the middle of this image were the foundation walls of a house large enough to seek shelter in from winter. It was just large enough to lie down in (and shut the door.) The dog could find a place once the door was shut.
A man didn’t live there. He lived outside, in what you can see here. The less time spent inside there, the better. That’s why it’s called “the world,” the space of human habitation.
Private life in Iceland is often an improvisation. Many people are just camping.
This misfit between built environments and how people fit into them is profound and nearly universal. It looks like poverty. It probably feels like it. It’s probably a profound resistance, the very one that Gunnar, in a more rural Iceland, called wealth.
So your car breaks down in Iceland and you don’t have the money to send it to a smithy? What’s to do?
Here, have a closer look.
Of course, maybe the neighbour put up the prayer. It’s hard to say.