31 March 2006

Neighborhood routines

Part of why I moved here was to shake up the routine I'd fallen into in Boston, with the same job and the same activities and the same places to eat and buy groceries. Why is it so comforting then, to find new routines here?

On Wednesday as I walked to rehearsal through Vesturbær, I thought of how many times I have already walked along these little streets- to the pool last summer before I had a job in the golden summer sunshine, to classes last fall in the stormy darkness, and now to music practice in the tenatitively budding spring. Lately I've been keeping an eye on certain yards where the snowdrops have been braving the sub-freezing temperatures and the blustering wind (on a side note, the noun for "blow" in Icelandic is "blástur"-love the word origins Icelandic lays bare).

In that time I've learned where the friendly cats are (The fluffy calico on Neshagi will climb into your lap and refuse to leave), and watched the chalk art drawn by local kids appear and wash away in the rain week by week. Some yards are tidy, others blown over with gum wrappers and Pepsi bottles, some are undergoing some major re-plantings, and one house has a brand-new fence ringing the yard since I started walking these sidewalks. The light has come and gone and is coming again, and the air is beginning to carry the summertime smell of Black Hawthorne again now.

Sometimes I see into cozy dinnertimes as I walk by the houses too- on Wednesday I caught a glimpse of what looked like a dinner party of six people toasting over a drooping bouquet of tulips. Last Saturday morning on my way to rehearsal, I noticed a raven soaring on the air currents, climbing and plummeting with a flick of the wings, apparently just for the joy of flying. I paused to watch, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman on her fourth-floor balcony leaning on the railing in the morning sunshine. She also was watching this silent moment, and both of us watched together until the raven disappeared from view behind a distant building.

These little things are always the ones I find most appealing about life anyway, and in a new place they help feel like I belong, that I'm part of the process. I'm learning about the patterns of the neighborhood, sharing moments with people (even if they don't notice I'm there) and slowly, I'm weaving myself into it all.

Ship sighting: Last night at 8pm was an exciting time in the harbor. J and I saw a tugboat bustling the tankship Kasla into the harbor, then one of the sand-dredger boats, Laugarnes, came into view, heading the other direction. There were also two fishing boats due to leave at the same time, but I didn't see them. Engey RE1 arrived again yesterday too, as she was looming over Hamborgara Búllan again this morning.


carmen said...

Such beautiful, evocative posts! Thank you. You transport me every time I read.

(p.s. I stared at that pink cloud photo from yesterday forever. It was so beautiful.)

sb said...

It's really interesting to read about your walks through a neighborhood I grew up in and got to know as a child.
One never knows when meeting up in a town like Boston, where later you'll end up walking. My good ol' streets of vesturbaer
A quick fyi - I went to Melaskoli and was always in the nyjaport section the one overlooking the roundabout, and later I went to Hagaskoli, which is next door to your church practice. For years I'd train in the ithrottahus on the other side of your choir practice.

It's so nice to get a visual from a newbee eye :D I love it!

(sorry, I don't even know what the pc or positive word in Iceland is for a foreigner/immigrant there anymore)

ECS said...

Carmen: thanks for reading! I'm glad you like them. I'll keep posting the good daily mountain photos on Flickr when I get a good one, but I have a feeling the pink clouds won't be back for a bit.

sb: this is a great neighborhood. It's one of the things I love about RVK, that I can be living in a "city" but still have this local feeling with all the little yards and real houses instead of all apartment buildings. It's got such a personal feel here.