25 November 2006

frozen tide

When I was a kid on the beach in the summer, I used to always wonder what it would look like there during the winter. How does snow look on a beach? Would there be ice on the ocean anywhere? Since those days, I've had plenty of chances to see snow on the sea while living here, but I've never really gotten up close and personal, so this afternoon I went down to where I'd gone back in August to see what the shoreline looked like frozen.

The snow along the shore was almost untouched by tracks as I waded through the ankle-deep snow and down to the black sand beach. It was low tide so the frozen sand expanse reached far out to sea below the grass and rocks, exposing kelp and tiny tide pools. The kelp had been completely encased in a prickly layer of frost, and the rocks along the edge of the shore were similarly frosted. Out to sea, the black silhouette of a single seabird bobbed in the calm water, and overhead a myriad of tiny planes were angling in to land.

On the shore, the rocks that edged the beach curving to the south were completely enfolded in ice, shiny like glazed German Christmas cookies, and across the bay, Bessastaðir´s tiny assemblage of buildings hunkered beneath the ghostly pastel formations of the mountains. I stood there on the shore for twenty minutes, watching the sun-glow fade from the houses on the coast, and listening to the swans call to each other as they flew overhead. The landscape was so static at that witching-hour, the tide pools still and frozen, the sea empty of ship traffic, and the seapath behind me quiet save a few hardy walkers with a squirmy flock of King Charles spaniels.

Since that quiet moment hours ago, the wind has started to whistle again, the clouds drifted in, and the darkness has closed around us. Just like so many experiences here, the moment was fleeting yet incredibly memorable.

*Sunday Addendum: I went back down there at a slightly earlier time with K, and we enjoyed the similar weather conditions along with dozens of other people out walking. I once again experienced the usual sensory overload of winter ocean sunsets and took lots more pictures.

8 comments:

sb said...

Hey, that's my old neighbourhood, where I used to play as a little girl. We'd light little bonfires between the biggest rocks, and when we returned home my mom would always scold us and say you shouldn't be playing with fire. We were 7-10 years old and nobody could ever really tell us what to do and what not to do. We'd head out the next day. Again jump on the same rocks, wade in the sea on a summer day, put on our warm woolen sweaters so we wouldn't get cold. We'd find pieces of wood, some old newspaper and light another fire. That was so much fun in those days. Then we'd find an old rotten fish and throw it on our bonfire along with seaweed and kelp. It smelled horrible at times. But I remember that beach with such fondness.

Ever new year, they do light a huge bonfire there on the beach. An old pagan tradition.
This is definitely one of my absolutely favorite places in Iceland

ECS said...

S-I thought of you when I was taking the pictures because I remembered you commenting on the spot last time I wrote about it. Such a lovely section of the coastline!

Today is equally clear and crisp and I'm already thinking of going walking down there again. First the pool though.

Professor Batty said...

...thanks for sharing your afternoon with us...

jessica said...

iceland seems lonely but very beautiful. a totally different world from the one i experience every day.

ECS said...

Professor- glad you enjoyed it! It was remarkably beautiful, and now I think I might be addicted to winter beaches. There's so much to see!

Jessica- I am selectively framing the photos to not have the cars and the people and so forth in it, but I do think it's easier to find open, empty spaces even in town than anywhere else I can think of. Of course what you can't see is that my back was to a road and a full line of houses.

pjn said...

My wife and I went to Iceland on one of our first dates, and then came back for our fifteenth anniversary. Reading your posts and seeing those pictures just reminds me of the strange, beautifully inexplicable hold it has on me.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I remember wondering exactly the same thing about snow on the beach when I was a kid. I saw the dea frozen for the first time in Borganes, the first year I lived in Iceland. I couldn't believe the sea could really freeze, it was amazing.

Anonymous said...

*Sea, I meant sea, not "dea".