29 July 2010


this post inspired by Maya's comment about the smells of Iceland

A few days ago we had unusual weather for Iceland- a light, low drizzle with absolutely no wind, the kind of day that I think is perfect for walking. I threw on my trusty Iceland-made raincoat and headed out towards Öskuhlíð's tiny forest. The path there is close with pine trees and moss, all sharply scented in the mist.

From there I came out near the thermal beach at Nauthólsvík, where the delicious dinner smells from the newish café there wafted across the path. Then came the sweet smell of the white clover that clusters along the airport fence. A plane came in to land overhead, along with a cloud of jet fuel. Moving on, I came to the stretch where one can look over Bessastaðir and the completely slack sea. The water there is so clear I could see ducks as they dove on their underwater path through the seaweed. To the right, rainwashed rose bushes gave off velvety clouds of perfume, their heads heavy with water. Then comes the grassy stretch on the other side of the airport where they'd just mowed the soccer fields on both sides- warm and grassy smell there.

Further on I turned onto Sörlaskjöl, past houses hiding behind the pointed sharp smell of arctic birches, and then through the center of Seltjarnarnes. The walking path continues beyond the pool and heads through a thicket of sea grass, fresh and airy in the drizzle. I passed the golf course and detoured through the beach where the eider chicks have grown up so much they look like adults, but still peep like babies. A few wading birds scurried along the lackluster tide, but the smell of the Atlantic was strong and familiar from all my summers on Martha's Vineyard.

Turning at the lighthouse I wandered past the rank reek of seaweed in low tide, beyond the miniature seaside hotpot to the part where nothing smelled particularly interesting but the view was enough to keep me busy. To my left, Esja with a loaded cargo ship gliding in, straight ahead the skyline of Reykjavík, still happily dominated by Hallgrímskirkja (and not skyscrapers), to my right a dilapidated garage where a band was raging through a song that definitely did not need more cowbell.

To finish off I took the sneak-path that leads almost directly to the pool in Vesturbaer, then past my old house (new pavement smell near there), then through the park near Tjörnin where it was already so late they'd turned off the fountain spray. When I got home it was well and truly dark and my three hours of walking made me drowsy and happy to be inside with a hot cup of tea.

In other news of this walk, I finally also saw Björk in her native habitat. It's often one of the first questions people ask when I say I live in Iceland and until now I've had to reply that I hadn't spotted her in spite of living in the same neighborhood for years. At the beginning of my walk she passed me on a bike wearing gold sparkle shoes, blue velvet leggings, and enormous headphones, doing her usual Björk face contortions. She passed me short after going back towards her house, apparently just out to enjoy the misty air like I was.


Maya said...

! Hooray! I feel very honoured ;^D I enjoyed your walk, almost like I walked it myself =D =D =D =D I hope you have a very nice day :^D

Professor Batty said...

Thank you for stirring similar memories I have of walks in many of the same places.

Yessica said...

My favorite two things about this post:
1. the reference to "more cowbell"
2. the brilliant description of Björk's bike-riding outfit. (having mental images now!)

ECS said...

maya: I need inspiration these days so thank you! I feel like I'm often writing the same things over & over again.

batty: it's it one of the greatest? I love it pretty much any time of year and in almost all types of weather too.

yessica: I think you know what kind of raging garage band I mean if you've lived here for any length of time :)

and björk is so.. björk that it's impossible to mistake her for anyone else