Sunday, 27 November 2005

Xmas Lights

Today is the first day of Advent, and as such we can officially begin preparing for Christmas. Lights can be strung up and stored angels dusted off and displayed without hesitation...the good old Christian calendar says its Ok! We're even supposed to light the first of four Advent Sunday candles and place them carefully in windows to light the way for Baby Jesus, or, rather, to begin more intensive preparation for the impending Darkest Day of the Year at the Winter Solstice.

Wherever our beliefs lie, 'tis officially the season to honor light in deepest darkness and be thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives who will help us survive through the coming months of cold. Find your friends and family and gather them to you, light candles and yule logs and fairy lights, mix a big warm pot of glugg, bake some gingerbread cookies and get yourself a pair of fuzzy mittens... wintertime has come.

Saturday, 19 November 2005

Northern Lights

Hotel Rangá, originally uploaded by blue eyes.

I didn't take this photo, but uploaded it from the Icelandair Hotels website. It's a lovely shot and appropriate because we're sliding in Aurora Borealis season here in Iceland as the weather gets colder.

Actually, it's not that cold here right now about 45°F/8°C today. There's no snow, only sporadic rain and occasional gusts of wind. By law all cars are to have winter tires on by now, but there's hardly a reason to; the only thing they accomplish at this point is the tearing up of the asphalt on the roads. Still, you never know when you're going to wake up to a frozen landscape here...the weather on this island is so unpredictable that there's hardly any way to plan for those deep-freeze days. Pretty much everyone over twenty agrees that there used to be a lot more snow in winter here in Iceland. Now we never even know if we'll have a white Christmas or what we call a red, or snowless, one. It's a little disturbing and very frustrating: the winters end up being just cold, grey, seemingly-endless stretches where the ground freezes and thaws in turn, and arctic winds whip up the barren, crystalized soil that stings into your eyes and ears with menace. Snow, though definitely not romantic past the first few days of the season's first fall, at least provides a much-welcomed diversion to endless winter grey.

That's what the norther lights do as well. We usually only get the green auroras here, with maybe a little purple blended in, but when they show it doesn't matter what color they are. They slink across the sky like silky dancers, always giving me the feeling that the performance is solely for me. An amazing natural phenomenon.

We just moved back into the apartment on the third floor of our building on the top of Þingholt, and have a stupendous view northwest over all of Reykjavík and beyond. When the auroras light up we can watch them from our living room windows or even just lay in bed and let the show lull us into a soft and dreamy sleep.

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Sunday Feed

On grey weekend days there are always bits of brightness down by the Reykjavik town lake: little ones sporting shiny smiles in their multi-colored parkas offer ducks and geese and swans bits of bread from loafs that never seem to last long enough.

Friday, 4 November 2005

Model Island

When in Reykjavik you definitely have to check out the City Hall, or Ráðhús. It's the big, grey, bowed building that juts out over the town lake, and though not everyone was pleased with it when it was erected (the bowed roof reminded many of the hundereds of American army quonset huts left scattered throughout Reykjavik after WWII, and with that the fact that too many Icelanders ended up living in those unheated corrugated iron nightmares ), its become a certain civic landmark.

Go ahead and walk the thin bridge from the duck-feeding corner of the town lake into the City Hall, get yourself a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at the Ráðhús Café, pick up a few tourist brochures and take a good long look at the giant relief map of Iceland that is usuallly on display. I personally sepnd at least a half an hour rediscovering it every time I see it, but then again I've got a definite thing for maps of any kind. This one, though, takes the cake.

Tuesday, 1 November 2005

Last Holdout

Some sweet sights of summer are harder to suppress than others...
This aged daisy seems to be taking a desperate last stand in a nearby Reykjavik frontyard.