16 November 2006

we are tougher than you

In the past three days, the balmy weather of Sunday has descended into a special kind of frigid, with temps hovering around -7c for the most part. That in itself is quite tolerable to my New England raised self, but what makes it spectacular is the steady wind that's currently clocking in at 20mph, with gusts at almost 50. After the warm day on Sunday, the snow all disappeared, so the landscape has that peculiar frozen-looking deadness that's enhanced by the ever-sinking sun.

Everyone here keeps going on proudly about how this must be THE COLDEST I have felt EVER, but to be honest, it's about like my high-school years on an exposed hilltop in Vermont. There were even times in Boston that were that cold, so I'm used to it, people. I've got three cashmere sweaters that are in heavy rotation right now, a jaunty hat, a sweeping scarf, and mittens, all serving me nicely. As I was walking downtown last night, I kept checking... cold? Nope, still toasty. It's all about layers, and befriending people who will knit you things.

Wind like this IS rather preposterous to walk in though, and reminded me of a story my mom heard before I moved here. My mom's got a friend who's been in the international diplomatic circle her whole life, and when her friend heard I was moving to Iceland, she said that the only thing she knew about the country was from someone who had been stationed here some time ago. She'd been told that it was necessary to tie the kids together so they didn't blow away in the fierce weather here. At the time, I dismissed the story as anecdotal and rather goofy, but now I'm not so sure. I've had enough plokkfiskur to make me a little more earthbound than a grade-schooler in the wind, but last night I found myself laughing as I sailed sideways across Lækjargata, the wind ripping my cold-stiffened iPod wire from my ear and untwirling my scarf from my neck.

I'll admit that I wouldn't want to have to deal with weather like this all the time, but as I've said before, the weather here's bound to change in a few days. Until then, I put on my best New England face and lean into the wind, and do my best to find the interesting features of weather like this. For example, I discovered cool ice-effects in the waterfall-wall outside the city hall. It's gonna be a long winter if you can't find something worth admiring.


tsduff said...

Love your attitude :-) I was fascinated with the watery moss wall when I was there - now it looks so different with the icicles :-) I'm glad you are able to deal with the cold. My Icelandic "mama" presented me with soft handmade wool foot warmers, as well as a gorgeous knit scarf and hat. They are too hot to wear here almost! I don't knit - boo hoo. Say, have you been using your loom lately?

Angel said...

"befriending people who will knit you things" eh? :)

Today I woke up to tornado warnings and massive thunderstorms. Major wind and rain...In November no less... We had 12 tornados in the area today- fun times (not- I'd rather have the cold, tornados scare me- there is nothing like hiding in the bathroom with a nervous cat and dog listening to the howling wind outside)

Anonymous said...

One of my greatest winter memories is fetching a christmas tree with dad a few years back. It was the most sunny and crisp of winter mornings, at around -35 degrees Celsius.

We'd slowly roam around the woods on a ski doo looking for the perfectly compact pine, wondering how beautiful the world looks when it's not just cold but extremely cold. It's overwhelming, you lose control to it.

ECS said...

Terry- I actually wanted to take a photo of the moss during the day last Saturday but I didn't have my camera, and when I returned the light wasn't so magical. As for the loom... well, let's not talk about that right now, shall we?

Angel- you know I'll trade photos for knit goods ANY time :-D I'm easy like that! You know, I've never been in tornado territory. Sounds interesting.

DTW- OK, you're the toughest of us all! I don't think I've ever felt that kind of temperature. Damn!

sb said...

I think Boston gets colder than Reykjavik, at least in my memory. NorthEast US is colder than R-vik, I think.
My best friend back home just told me that this season is much, much colder than normal in Iceland, where as here in Boston we're experiencing temps in the mid 50's to 60's
Jan/Feb in Beantown will far outway Reykjavik.

When I was 7 years old, I got blown away in the wind. I remember myself standing outside Melaskoli with my sister. Waiting for my grandmother, the wind swept me up into the air, and then underneath a lightblue volkswagen beagle. The old beagle. I think I was airborne about 40 feet :D I remember it as if it happened yesterday. I was a skinny stick back then, where as my sister had more weight to hold her grounded.
I still have the scar on my chin to prove it :D
My grandmother then came to pick us up at the nurses office where the nurse glued together my scar, it's about an inch or two long.
This was my 7-year old story of bravery fighting the Icelandic winds.

Anonymous said...

E, it isn't as bad as the temperature might suggest. :)

I don't know if there's any meteorological truth to that, but from my personal experience I'd say that really cold days (when it gets to say, below -20) are usually completely missing wind. That was the case with said christmas eve. I live in a coastal town these days and I can say that I've felt a lot more cold in here in several occasions than I did back then. The wind effect makes -10 a lot more miserable than when it's colder but not windy.

When it's just freezing, you feel different. I guess the bloodstream improves all over to help cope with the temperature. It's like that crisp and tingling feeling on your cheeks which you can experience in way less freezing degrees, just more refreshing and powerful.