20 January 2008


while I was away, Iceland got busy covering things up more than they'd already been covered, so K and I landed in a mini-blizzard yesterday and had to shove the car out of the drift it had gotten nicely tucked into while we were away. It's a rather sporty thing with open wheels so the packed snow caused peculiar effects on the vehicular balance, so we tried to pull over to do something about it but ended up more in a snowdrift than we'd been in the parking lot.

Within seconds, a youngun with a highland-worthy diesel truck had pulled over, followed by a minivan full of enthusiastic kids and a father. The youngun looked hopefully at the car for a place he could hook a winch but when that proved unlikely, he pulled out a sizeable shovel and went about flinging snow energetically while K and I looked on. Then, with a synchronized push, the two guys popped us out of the snowbank and disappeared into the fading day with a cheery wave.

This encounter was so very Icelandic to me in several ways. First of all, when I saw the truck and the type of fellow in it, I knew he'd want to try some kind of winch action. The guys with cars like that seem to always want to make the most use of their equipment, and revel in being The Guys Who Fix Things. Second, he didn't just hand the shovel to me or K, but dug us out completely by himself, and third, in spite of the youngun there, the minivan guy stopped to help too.

As I've said before, there's this way that people go about helping each other here that make me glad to be here. I do think it's not uniquely Icelandic, but more the shape of life in any rural place that is prey to the elements. Growing up in Vermont usually meant helping people in the same way, although I remember more mud-related rescues on the spring pre-season crew team jogs than winter dig-outs. We'd be out for a run together on the narrow dirt roads that wound through the area, and would come upon someone mired in a fresh patch of springtime. Nothing's quite so nice to someone like that than 10 or 15 high-school athletes, ready to push and dirty enough as it is that a little more mud doesn't matter.


Angel said...

Wow- and to think that here in North Carolina we got excited about 2 inches of snow the other day.

But I think people often just like to be helpful. My mom's car once died on the freeway far from home, in the 'hood where she worked. A student from her school recognized her on the side of the road, pulled over and helped her get a new battery for the car. Nevermind that he was a bit tough cholo looking sort of guy- he still went to help his favorite teacher.

ECS said...

I was looking at your photos of the progress of the snow and thinking of how you gotta come check out what we have here!

As for the helping out thing, I know people help everywhere, but something about these guys totally not knowing us, and doing it all for us was just really cool.

tsduff said...

I can imagine your car stuck in the Keflavik airport parking LOL! I'm glad you had help getting out of the snowbank. Helping hands are really neat - especially when you are on the receiving end :)

I'm wearing my Lopapeysa because although there isn't any snow here, it is cold enough to warrant wearing ig.

Northern musings said...

Glad the island and the islanders continue to bring joy to your life!
I´d be interested in hearing your take on the rvk power game... thats assuming an interest and a willingness to make comment on local politics - if not no biggy, it´s just sometimes good to hear other, probably more objective, points of view