Pattern, volume, mass, surface, light, line and shade. These expressions make up art. They are also representations of the human body.
(Home of ravens, too.)
Which is a creation of the earth’s body. Iceland feels like home because it is: whether on the veldt of Africa, the steppes of Asia, the prairies of North America or the glaciers of Europe, Asia and Canada, these basic forms, of our bodies laid out for us to walk through under the sky, are our oldest map. Wherever we are going, we are already there.
Old Iceland: Volcano, Glacier, Darkness, and Dawn and Thou.
New Iceland: Volcano, Glacier, Darkness of the Outhouse, Dawn, and Rental Cars.
Without zoom lenses, Icelandic tourism would be a post-modern art form.
The sheepfold under its twin cinder cone, Grábrók:
Forget romantic tourist images. This is Iceland.
It’s not just in Snæfellsnes. It’s everywhere, really: clods of earth like curds in whey on the ground, glopped out of volcanoes, more made with a plow and seeded with pasture grass, and glops of earth in the sky, called clouds, that shade the earth like stone and make you pull a sweater around your shoulders and look up to the fields of the air.
Clods of Earth Falling from the Sky
The old saying, mocked by the Christian parable Chicken Little, which laughs at a chicken who imagines that the sky is falling, of all things, is given its original context if you stop driving around in Iceland and stand still long enough to become the wind, where the old words aren’t old. Iceland is always full of surprises like this.
This is the original world of the islands of the north that gave us the capacity of speech, and if we call only tilled soil clods now, while the ones from volcanoes are called lava and the ones in the air are called condensations of water under pressure regimes, we still draw a sweater over our shoulders when a cloud obscures the sun.
The wind lives north of Dettifoss, in a landscape in perfect balance: what is neither hard nor seeking shelter is blown away, yet in these flows the wind is often denied purchase and sent on.
Walking is not the point here. Standing and staying, those are the triumphs. If you walk, you will not see.
Whether you find power in a single wave breaking out of the sea of the sun…
… or, turning around, in lines of thought, humble beneath the ancient forces of ice and gravity …
… or in a glacier setting to sea from the Jökulsárlón in the last hour of light …
… may you find the mountain where you are home.
Thor’s Shield, from Skogarkot in Thingvallasveit
And may you burn like a birch tree in the cold.
Happy New Year. Thank you for all of your inspiration!