Tag Archives: South Iceland

Beautiful Systrafoss

Back in the days before lava covered the best of Iceland and people had to move up onto the hills with their sheep…

… the priests of Kirkjubær …

The basalt column marks the old church.

… were famous for keeping a group of nuns, well, orphan girls for the most part, over at Kirkubærjarklaustur, for the pleasure that could be gained from that …

 

… in just the place the Irish monks (who were on Iceland before the Icelanders) were camping out in caves in the cliffs and living off bird eggs (and then abandoned because a bunch of noisy pagans and their Irish women [slaves aka wives] had moved into town), and I wonder, you know, if the priests didn’t choose the place because the falls are like a bridal veil.

Systrafoss

… that flows down the hill separately, splits around the rock (fine Christian symbolism there) and then unites as one — before flowing through the cloister. We’ll never know, but we do know that the young women were set to work embroidering cloth, and that Icelandic cloth was the best in the world. It would be a surprise if the amorous priests missed out on the symbolism, or didn’t point it out to the girls left in their charge. At any rate, the falls are beautiful, and richer for a history older than Iceland, even though the lava took all the best land away, some say to punish those lascivious priests.

Still, the land’s still good enough for zipping through on a tractor, so all is not lost.

Preparation is All

Everything catches your eye. The world is not what we expect but what we answer when it calls to us. The two gestures are the same. Preparation is all, even if you don’t know the preparation you have done. When I first travelled to Iceland, we were given an itinerary and sent on our way, and, being curious and easily wowed, kept stopping the car and being late for dinner.

Now I understand that if we hadn’t wanted to be caught, and if we hadn’t been ready to be caught, we would have driven on, and made dinner. Because we stopped, I saw into the heart of the world, and have written two books and am deep into two other manuscripts. And still that lamb dinner calls!

Whispering Sweet Nothings in a Farm Troll’s Ear

This troll is marked on no map, yet so many travellers have found it that access has been blocked — an unusual thing for Iceland, but necessary. I leave it for you to find it yourself. Note the old house site to the troll’s left. Yeah, on the grassy slope, and at its base. People used to live closer to trolls than they do now.

Still, take a look in the troll’s ear to the right above, and then to the goofs chatting in there, as if they were on the set of a silent movie.How can you block access to what doesn’t belong to you in the first place? How can you stop a conversation that has no sound? You can’t, but you can give it space.

Glaciers and Humans in the South

Glaciers are beautiful, as you can see.

glacier

Skaftafellsjökull

The human body extends itself into them, and is magnified, just as the sun is. Without them, we are small. With them, we are powerful…

skaftafellsjokull

Skeiðarárjökull

…with a power we must give over to them. Then they draw us to themselves.

p1310367

Sólheimájökull

Gladly.