12 January 2007


it's snowed some every day for the past three days, and the view outside now is completely white, with snow billowing off the roofs and low clouds to the south attesting to more on the way. It's properly Arctic, and yet still I was out in it barefoot and in a bathing suit last night. I adore the pools here.

As I did my laps beneath the gently falling snow yesterday evening, each turn of my head for air gave me a snatch of orange nighttime snow-sky, and occasionally my intake of breath was accompanied by the tang of a caught snowflake before I plunged under the velvet water surface. Swimming in snow was prickly on the arms and my exposed shoulder, encouraging me to swim more quickly so I could keep rotating through the warmth in the water. I don't know if it's the temperature or the low chlorine here but the water last night felt especially delicious and smooth as it flowed over my face and along my legs.

Last night the pool was very empty of others, with only about six pairs of shoes lined up in the locker room, but that's what I liked best about the evening. After the chaos and full-capacity seating in the eimbað during the short hours at holiday time, it was nice to have the peace of evening pooltime back. Sitting in the heitur pottur after my swim, I lay with my face towards the sky, watching where the steam from the pool mixed with the falling flakes, and listened to the chortles from the old men in the next tub. Somewhere, maybe in the guard tower on the opposite side of the pool, a tinny radio played just loud enough to hear above the snowbound landscape. Beyond the protective berm near the lap lanes, the roads of the neighborhood were muffled and quiet, and these few sounds within the pool enclosure stayed low, trapped by the clouds. It was quiet and cozy there, watching the flakes and the occasional errant firecracker that sparkled in the sky. Will I ever not find snow enchanting? The freshness, the mystery and muffling, and the unexpected swirling are still remarkably distracting.

It's also so fascinating how snowstorms here change their mind so quickly. In spite of the recent stormy weather I've also seen spectactular sunrises and blue sky since the storms don't ever sit over us like the weather we had in Boston. Currently it's become sunny again in half my view, while the other still swirls with falling snow. It's hard to stay focused on work when I never know quite what I'll see when I look out the window, and I never want to miss a single glorious sun-edged cloud highlight. There is just so much to see.


dtw said...

Where am I? How did I get in here? What time is it? Where is this urge to go swimming coming from?

I enjoy the evening serenity as well. Lately though I've found myself rather often pondering the hydrodynamic qualities of my beard - I'm sure it adds a few seconds to my laptimes!

Professor Batty said...

... still going to "good old vbærlaug?"

tsduff said...

Thank you for writing all about your experiences. Really - it keeps the love affair I had with Iceland alive for me. I was sadly not able to visit the swimming pools whilst there, and I know I missed a great thing. Next time.

ECS said...

dtw: You're settling in well, although I agree that the beard is probably a hindrance to pooltime speed. Maybe you can modify a bathing cap to suit your chin?

batty: Yep, still the old west hood pool, although that may be changing in the next few weeks.

terry: I can't believe you were here and didn't swim! It's an Iceland essential... just not a proper trip if you don't go. I love my pool time.

dtw said...

Ha, a chin-fitted bathing cap. Sounds rather painful and very awesome.

Although I'm rather disappointed for omitting the obvious from the list of questions this post raised, so I'll relive the moment.

Where am I? How did I get in here? What time is it? Where is my towel?

Sarah said...

We never ended up getting to a pool while we were there... just another excuse to go back, right?!


Sir said...

Congrats on your new pad!!! Long time coming.
Now you just have to make sure you have a dinging room table with chairs, and invite people for 'potlucks'
You may have to explain that one to the Icelanders.
So will it be Miðbæjarlaug on Barónstígur? (or did that one maybe close? that one is an indoor pool) Or will it be the big ol´ Laugardalslaug?
take some pics out of your window so we can see what you see when you wake up. I hope it´ll be a beautiful place.