01 February 2007

time warp

This morning I woke up in my new place for the first time, and since I hadn't seen the view yet (all my previous visits had been after dark), I lingered over my strong coffee to watch the sun illuminate what lay outside the kitchen window. With the window open, I could hear the bells chiming the hour and the half up the hill at Hallgrímskirkja, and the flurry of Reykjavík starting the day. The town surrounds me where I live, and although I'm close to a busy street, the buildings in the area create a cocoon of quiet. The contour of the hill has also been kind to me, allowing a glimpse of Esja's spine and a spread of buildings off to the northeast.

Outside, Fréttablaðið tucked under my arm, I took the shortcut through the back yard and out onto the street, where I discovered that the new 'hood is full of little artisan studios and shops. I passed a window with pulled shades, the sill cluttered with paintbrushes, rags, and some slightly forgotten lemons that must have once been a still life. On the next corner, walls of yarn made the backdrop for a knitting and seamstress shop.

Later in the day, I went to what is now My Local Pool, where the vintage 30's styling charmed me the first time I saw it when I had newly arrived. I was thinking it was going to be a sad swim since the pool is uniquely indoors, but the high windows, the frightening deep end, and two empty lanes for the picking were perfect conditions for a rousing swim, and I do so love the rooftop hot-tubs with panoramic city views. On the way back to my new home along an empty street, I marveled at how I could hear the activity of the city but it all seemed to be happening somewhere else. In the midst of these 1930s-era short apartments, behind the vintage curvature of Hallgrímskirkja's apse, and in the rain-gleaming fresh darkness, it was Iceland 70 years ago, and I live in the middle of it.

9 comments:

paulynn said...

Hi! I am a recent fan of your blog - and just saw this article which you might be interested in - you've probably seen it since its in the Iceland Review ;o) but just incase...

Article: Legendary ship to be renovated?
Master shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson is looking for ways to have Gullborgin renovated, a ship that belonged to the most famous captain of Iceland’s Westmann Islands, Binni í Gröf. read more here http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id=16539&ew_0_a_id=260878

i have been avidly reading all your post since the very beginning ( I have finally gotten through end of October 2006) and making some comments here and there. Thank you for keeping Iceland ALIVE for me through your beautiful lyrical writing of life as you know it. I look forward to more. I too an am American - with Iceland in her blood it seems. I hope its not just a phase for me, and I do actually make it there again to stay for a while. Takk!!

paulynn said...

Hi again, I wanted to make a comment about this particular post, since I am here I thought it an appropriate thing to do! You really give life to a place and how people can be in them, how you are in them...your choice of words are perfect for me to envision walking along side you down this street, looking in this window and that, feeling the shortness of the buildings in the evening.

Also, when I read your posts I do quick web searches on words I don't know - like Fréttablaðið which is the newspaper in town, which when I did a search, one of the first listings that appeared for me is a website about architecture ;o) which in fact I studied and enjoy learning about architecture in different cities and neighborhoods in history and how people live in them.

Well, my comment has gone on long...i just wanted to say thanks again, specifically for this posting about your neighborhood. I can imagine actually being there and living there...

And welcome to your new digs! You must feel envigorated by the adventure of it. Discovering how you'll feel a new, a new year ahead! You've had quite a journey! And I am an admirer of your courage and charisma throughout!

Wishing you a beautiful sunrise when you awake.
btw - you can find me here www.flickr.com/photos/paulynn...I just started the blogging thing and will get some info up soon!

Hulles said...

Dang. I like your blog enough to have put a link to it on my site a short while ago (thanks to cK for the steer)(as in direction, not cow) and you vindicate my decision with every lyrical post. Thanks.

Hulles said...

Oh yeah, and I really like the John Shedd quotation. A lot.

tsduff said...

I know that pool - excellent recap of your first impression. Nice to see where you are settled - and I like the comfortable way you ease into your new surroundings. Was hoping for a pic of Esja as you get to glimpse her.

Anonymous said...

You should somehow link these locations to Google Earth so we can zoom in and see them from above! Or maybe use google maps.

ECS said...

Paulynn; I hadn't heard about the ship! That's cool. I've noticed your comments on a few- Iceland has really affected you like it seems to do to some people.
on to the second comment.. Fréttablaðið is actually just one of several papers, and it happens to be free, so it's easy to grab a copy on the way out the door. As for architecture, I also studied it, and as my professor said, if you are interested in architecture, you need never be bored, since even the most dull room was planned carefully by someone. It's much easier in my neighborhood, which is why I like it- the 30s is a personal favorite for design. Thanks for your wonderful comments!

Hulles; I'm honored, although I kind of wish CK had given you some livestock as well. That'd make for a good story. The Shedd quotation was from a commenter back in June and I loved it so much I threw it up there as my personal slogan.

Terry: It's a great pool, and I'm happy to still live close to some hot tubs! I've not had much sunrise activity today because its' fantastically gray but I'm sure I'll get lucky eventually.

anonymous: I've put some map info on the photos but the google earth stuff is pretty bad resolution up ere, and I got bored with hunting for intersections and even worse, trying to find a particular ridge in the middle of the empty central highlands. Iceland does not take well to this geomapping stuff.

Sir said...

FANTASTIC! Congrats on you new Pad!!!
I once used to live down the street on Barónstígur, and it was fab!
Welcome to the 101 Reykjavik neighbourhood.
( I hope you're getting a good deal)
Now, it's just a question of finding a job within a walking distance and I KNOW it's possible :D

ECS said...

sir: thanks :) I do love the area a lot after just a week here, although I also like my job. In spite of its inconvenient location, I think I'm going to stick around for a while.