I’m sitting in an almost empty room, surrounded only by moving boxes. Our two years in Iceland is over and it’s time to move to Washington, DC. But I can’t go without first telling Iceland how much I love her. Oh, how I’ll miss the big sweeping majestic national parks, but also the little, wonder-filled details. I already miss. . .
*The one big black raven that perched every morn on the light post in Kópavogur. (And each time I spotted it trying so hard to say Hrafn, the word raven in Icelandic. )
*Seltjarnarnes: soaking my feet in the hot foot bath while I stare out at the majestic mountains and watch the rough surf; racing out to the peninsula on a dark night in winter to glimpse the northern lights; arriving when the tide is out and we can walk over the breakwall and all the way to the lighthouse; returning when the lighthouse is on an island, surrounded by the deep sea, and marveling that it was ever possible to walk out to that far-off spit of land.
*Heading off onto any of the walks from the Reykjavik Walks book. http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Trails-Greater-Reykjavik-Area/dp/993541826X But especially, finding the ruins from the ancient village at Straumur in Hafnarfjörður.
*Driving for twenty hours over rough trail roads, emerging into a small town and then running into someone I know. Because, of course, I did. This is Iceland.
*Sipping coffee and catching up on life-stuff with the cool international mamas from the International School
*Sitting on the Látrabjarg cliffs in the West Fjords and having a puffin fly over and alight just inches away. Then another, and another. . .
*Climbing inside the fully-functional and totally dark cabin of that old boat in the in Herring Museum in Siglufjörður
*Sitting in the steamy hot pool that’s perched on the edge of a cliff on a stormy day in Hofsós
*Finally spotting the herd of reindeer roaming the fields outside of Höfn, and just as I do, watching a flock of swans swoop down beside them.
*Walking through the dark on Laugavegur on Þorláksmessa, Dec 23rd, with thousands of other Icelanders mezmorized by the hand-held candles and watching as tiny flakes of snow fall around me.
*Purple hills and purple fields blooming with lupine
*Texting friends: “any sign?” Then waiting and hoping and running outside in the freezing night in my PJs and a Russian winter hat to try and glimpse the northern lights.
*March 17th, 2013, the night of the massive solar storm when the sky exploded with waves of green and the brightest craziest best light show a girl could ever want (especially a girl who waited so long to catch even the small glimpses of green).
*Watching my babes run free in a lava field
*Donning my fur vest, purple tights, red Hunter rain boots, KronKron dress or any other outrageous but totally standard outfit and heading into town with the mamas. First stop, a cocktail. Second stop, a long tasty meal. And then a long dark or light night that stretches well into morning.
*Westman Islands/ Vestmannaeyjar: watching as our boat squeezes into the too tiny entry into the harbor, my jaw dropping when I look at Surtsey–the brand new island, thinking about the movie Djúpið/The Deep, finding puffins, seeing the Pompeii-like scenes of the houses still in tact and buried up to the chimneys in lava
*Hiking for hours and finally reaching the peak of Esja on a sparkling day
*Turning before the tunnel to drive all the way around Hvalfjörður. Searching the fjord for whales. At the tip, hiking up to find Glymur, then heading over to Hotel Glymur for a late soup-lunch with warm bread.
*Hiking up to soak in the hot river in Hveragerði
*The day when we just drive and then stop beside a lava field. Find a hill, park the car, traverse the lava field and climb to the top of a peak. And the kids love it.
*Accidentially finding the tiny wooden church out between the Red House lobster restaurant in Eyrarbakki and Grindavík
*Soaking in the Blue Lagoon: in the snow, in the hail, in the wind, in the blazing sun, in the dark, under pink skies or grey skies. Any time.
*Any and every of the 13 days before Christmas. But especially the little troll men, the Yule Lads, that come with it. I heart Skyrgámur og Stúfur.
* Making my way to the geothermal beach at Nautholsvik. Sitting in this hot pot watching the sea is my idea of tranquility.
*Long runs on the trails along the fjord from Gardabær to the University or from Gardabær to Álftanes.
*Walking through the harbor
*Squinting my eyes to watch the play of light on the elaborate glass façade inside and outside of Harpa.
*Sjáland Harbor: this may be my favorite spot in Iceland. From the edge there is a small bay that fills with water during high tide. In the winter, ice and snow covers the shore. Beyond the small harbor, you can see only fields of lava and then the few white buildings with red roofs of Bessastaðir
*Never having been one to love birds, I now love to identify and find Loa, Oyster catcher, Arctic Terns, and the swans.
*Listening to M, my fabulous five-year-old, speak so fluently in Icelandic. And then marveling at how the young mind is so elastic.
*Stumbling across modern and ancient houses with turf roofs. And going home to read Flowers on the Roof and the story of Grannie Gunn.
*Looking at and walking through lava fields: black rocky ones, green mossy ones and all the thousands of other ones in between.
*Looking for huldenfolk in the elf garden in Hafnarfjördur
*Touching the octopus, anglerfish, and other creeps from the deep on Seaman’s day
*Taking the five-minute boat road out to Viðey to walk on the grassy paths and stop for a coffee on a warm, summer day.
*Seeing a humpback whale breech while whale watching in Húsavík
*Exploring, Shopping, and being entertained at: Design March, Airwaves, Culture Night, and all the other little festivals in between.
* Snæfellsnes: the tiny stone cafe (Fjöruhúsið) tucked on the hill beside the coast; the drive around the whole peninsula; laying across the cliffs at the lighthouse on the tip of the peninsula with the hopes that the cliff doesn’t drop off beneath me; making the easy climb to the top of caldera and wondering at how the volcano blew so recently; listening to the owner of the shark museum prattle on and on, mostly in indiscernible Icelandic; the colorful wooden homes on the hillside of Stykkishólmur. Sigh, I heart Snæfellsnes.
*the old school, no-frills charm of the Blue Lagoon of the north
*Seltún, Krafla, Hvergerdi, and all the other spots where the ground gurgles, the earth hisses, steam rises into the air, and water, ash, mud, and maybe even magma bubble, so I feel like I’ve landed on a distant planet or the center of the earth.
*Looking down from our ferry to see that we´ve stopped on the picturesque and magical tiny island of Flatey.
*Seeing my babes sleep in the loft of the worlds smallest house in Ísafjörður
*Narrowing, squinting, peering, trying different glasses on, whatever it takes to try and spot the edge of Greenland while standing on a cliff in the West Fjords.
*Wandering through the colorful tin houses on a bright night in Reykjavik and finally stumbling into one where I meet my bookclub ladies and we talk and eat until all hours of the night. And it is till bright out when I finally head home.
There´s so many more of these, but I´ve got a plane to catch. . .