14 September 2006

Boots, bluster, Beethoven

Autumn has definitely arrived in Iceland since I returned from Holland, which means pulling on the boots, bracing into the wind, and restarting the extracurricular activities after summer vacation. This time of year always makes me want to listen to classical music, perhaps as a nod to those early days back at school when we got all the new music we’d sing in chorus at the end-of-semester concert. I’ve channeled that now with an iTunes playlist of Beethoven piano sonatas, their pared-down simplicity a fitting soundtrack for the low clouds and swirling leaves outside my kitchen window.

Choir has started too, and with it more classical music. We’re singing a Bach cantata now, full of those signature eighth-note runs that seem impossibly complicated the first time you see them. After a few run-throughs though, the momentum of them and the vocal memory takes over and they roll like rustling leaves from my lips. They remind me of living here in so many ways, the effort and preparation when you turn the page to see this six-measure phrase, the thrill that ensues after nailing all the dotted quarter notes and all the tones perfectly, the inability to gloat in your success as the next onslaught of notes arrives. I’m always scrambling slightly to keep up musically, culturally, and linguistically here, but it is all so engrossing that I easily forget all the bad stuff when all the moving parts synthesize in a perfectly crafted moment. It’s not specifically about living here though, but just about trying to build a life that keeps you happy and interested. It sometimes does seem easier to find those minutes when you’re sitting on the edge of a massive, unpopulated, and silent fjord though.

Ever since I got back, the wind has also been blustery in what I am told is signature autumnal weather. It hasn’t been cold though, so this wind is rather invigorating when outside, and makes me happy be in a cozy warm bed as it roars against the windowpanes at night. I’ve discovered the Ultimate Icelandic dresscode for this weather too, involving some sturdy-yet-stylish fleece-lined boots and a generously-sized scarf (assemble the rest between, whether it is a skirt or jeans rolled up to show off the sassy buckles at the top of the boots). All this time I thought everyone was swooping artistically with the scarves when it really is about practicality. A scarf like this can protect from the quick spurt of drizzle, gives you something to bury your nose in when it’s really cold, and when inside it can cut the slightest of chills admirably. Plus, it’s fun to wear when the wind throws the fringe around when you walk down the street.

Ship sighting: Today is a massive influx-exodus of all kinds of curiously-named cargo ships. They are not all for containers though, like this Irish-registered dry-cargo ship, the Arklow Wind. More photos of its controls and such are here too.


Sarah said...

Hi! We´re back in Reykjavik as of today, Thursday... I´ll try to call you tonight to see if you can meet up tomorrow or early on Saturday, so if you get a call from some strange American, that´d be me! Hope to talk to you soon! (oh, and we have a couple of things for you, so even if you can only meet for a minute, that´d be good!)
PS Iceland has been everything I´d hoped it would be!!!

tsduff said...

My Icelandic Mom (g's mom)knitted a gorgeous soft luxuriant scarf for me, and I concur with your view on scarves. Not only is it beautiful to the eye, but is like wrapping up in a mini-blanket when the wind wants to ravage your neck, or to flip up over your face when the chill is biting your nose. After visiting Iceland a few times, my respect for the scarf increased 10-fold! Looking forward to hearing of your singing adventures.

ECS said...

hi Sarah! I remembered that you'd be back in the V-i-k so I saved you a spot in the schedule for tomorrow. I hope you do call, otherwise I think I remember where you said you're staying. We'll connect somehow, and I am so glad to hear you like it here so far!

Terry- Either I am growing accustomed to the weather here or it has not yet been that cold. I've been finding it refreshing more than ravaging lately, so the scarves tend to be more a fashion accessory than anything right now. We'll see how I feel in a few months though!

Batucada said...

Loved the internal pictures of the ship - blew them all up so we could see all the details...do you wish to be on a ship, as do we?