28 May 2009

economic stimulus

Earlier this week was the conclusion of the annual bike to work not-month-but-more-than-a-week, and as a bikeless person I contributed by walking to work on a few of the more sunny days. When yesterday turned out to have a promising forecast I set to again, even though my walk would no longer count towards the the tally for my company (during the bike-to-work event, the companies are grouped according to number of employees, with rankings based on the total number of kilometers logged).

Much of my route is the same as the one I described a few years ago, and yesterday morning had much of the same feeling. I stopped by the same bakery for the same cinnamon-peppered scone and a cup of coffee, then made my way across Tjörnin and up Laugavegur. Morning Laugavegur might be one of my favorite experiences of the street, when the Tíu Dropar girl is setting up the outside chairs in anticipation of the afternoon sun that would make it the perfect people watching spot, the sun already warm but the breeze off the snow covered mountaintops to the north is still fresh and cool.

I paused to read some of the love letter exhibition that's now lining shop windows, wondered about the number of curled blue ribbons tied on empty flagpoles and doorhandles, admired the string of skirts that the Red Cross clothing shop had hung from their store high across the street, and of course paused to scratch the tigerstripe cat that was already drunk on sun down by Hlemmur.

On my way home these past few weeks I've remembered that I need a spatula, or would like some noodles from the Asian grocery store by Hlemmur, or stopped to get some fancy chocolates as a barbecue treat from the shop known by its ugly plastic awning and excellent selection. It's hard to resist a scone from the numerous bakeries along the street in the morning, and more than once I've also grabbed lunch fixings from one of the early-opener shops. It's my own way of contributing to the economy here, and I have a feeling that more walking would continue this trend of patronizing the local businesses.

Plus, it's one way that I really relish this most glorious season here, being able to see how the purple flowers that spill over a fence just around the corner from the office have gone from green buds to nearly open in just a week and a half, and witness the pattern of snowfall that still drapes atop Esja and its neighbors. There's also that smell of growing here, now familiar from the past four years and yet still otherworldly, this blend of black cottonwood, arctic birch, and lava-moss.

The news here continues to be depressing at times, the exchange rates continue to go in unfavorable ways, but life still goes on. People still laugh, have parties and concerts, do barbecues and explorations, and at least the arrival of summer makes things feel a little less distressing. Volleyball in the yard, fresh rhubarb growing behind the garage ready to be made into cake, and the opportunity for picnics on the beach in the evening all provide excellent reminders that life still is pretty great. I live in a gorgeous place and am surrounded by wonderful people with whom I can enjoy these fleeting moments of summer sun.