Records and Guesthouse

I can’t make it to Eistnaflug this year, but as the festival approaches, my thoughts wander to East Iceland. The tiny town of Eistnaflug has one record store – it’s a pretty good one, especially considering the size and isolation of the town. Upstairs is an apartment where press stays during the festival. I got to pass for press the first time I attended the festival, and met quite a few writers whose work I follow and respect, as well as some folks from record labels that have absorbed significant funds from my bank account over the years. I am quite fond of this little metal building in a remote Nordic fjord.

Festival Town

Hard to believe this little town is home to Iceland’s biggest heavy metal festival, isn’t it?

I’ve been there twice now, both times for the festival, and I marvel at how well the locals handle the influx of corpse-painted drunkards. (The festival mantra “No idiots allowed” is partly responsible, I’m sure.) One of these days, I’m going to visit on a normal day and get to know these easy-going hosts.

Creeping Thyme

I was disappointed when I found out that we don’t have to go to Iceland to see puffins because we have puffins at home, too. But I was tickled to see creeping thyme, the plant I fill cracks in my patio with, growing wild on the shores of a glacier lagoon in Iceland. The exact same plant, so far from home. How far this humble herb has crept.

Slow Flow

Here’s what a glacier looks like when shot from a vehicle speeding down the highway. The car moves faster, but the ice is moving, too. It’s flow is just a little slower, but no less powerful for that.

FIDELITY by D H Lawrence

Fidelity and love are two different things, like a flower
and a gem.
And love, like a flower, will fade, will change into some-
thing else
or it would not be flowery.

O flowers they fade because they are moving swiftly; a
little torrent of life
leaps up to the summit of the stem, gleams, turns over
round the bend
of the parabola of curved flight,
sinks, and is gone, like a comet curving into the invisible.

O flowers they are all the time travelling
like comets, and they come into our ken
for a day, for two days, and withdraw, slowly vanish again.

And we, we must take them on the wind, and let them go.
Embalmed flowers are not flowers, immortelles are not
flowers;
flowers are just a motion, a swift motion, a coloured
gesture;
that is their loveliness. And that is love.

But a gem is different. It lasts so much longer than we do
so much much much longer
that it seems to last forever.
Yet we know it is flowing away
as flowers are, and we are, only slower.
The wonderful slow flowing of the sapphire!

All flows, and every flow is related to every other flow.
Flowers and sapphires and us, diversely streaming.
In the old days, when sapphires were breathed upon and
brought forth
during the wild orgasms of chaos
time was much slower, when the rocks came forth.
It took aeons to make a sapphire, aeons for it to pass away.

And a flower it takes a summer.

And man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth
flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than fora-
miniferae
older than plasm altogether is the soul of a man under-
neath.

And when, throughout all the wild orgasms of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more molten
rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks, a man’s heart
and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

Maybe D.H. Lawrence is the reason I saw a heart in the ice?

 

Tussock

Iceland’s moss fields are not quite so famous – or so awe-inspiring – as it’s lava fields or volcanoes. But they are quite remarkable. The moss is the first thing that grows in the soil that forms from eroding lava rock. Even though it looks invitingly springy to walk on, it can take years for the moss to regrow from a single footprint. Iceland’s moss is like the new downy hair on a baby’s head – and you wouldn’t step on that, would you?