18 November 2011

Christmas crowd

I'm lying awake in the eerie silence of a still Icelandic night, wondering why when the wind howls I can't sleep, yet when it's still, I miss its busy lullaby. Why is it that when I most need it, sleep eludes? It's that time of year when everything is crowding together, trying to jumble in the decreasing gap between now and Christmas.

There are those handcrafted gifts to finish, packages to post, and the massive editing project I took on a few weeks ago looming in my after-work hours. My head's full of superplasticizers and adsorption rates, my fingers nimble from all the tri-color knitting, but chaos has descended at home where the music bags, knitting bags, gym bags, and sheafs of paper are in an ever-rotating cycle by the door. Bach is also coloring the month as fevered preparations continue for a dual Magnificat performance. It's a world premiere, no less, since the choir director's foray into choral music has become more ambitious with a full length chorale.

It's the season for special foods and special traditions, perfumed with clementines and cinnamon. I was in the office of my car's garage and when that telltale scent wafted from behind the desk, the two off-duty mechanics offered me a clementine, and the scent theme followed me to the office and then to choir rehearsal. Everyone's eating them, the boxes stacked high at the grocery stores an easy temptation.

Any business that can joins in on the holiday frenzy. Flyers for holiday cleaning deals clog the mail slot, the radio blares with ads for pre-holiday carpet shampooing, hairstyle bargains, and Christmas outfit sales. A new shop opened last weekend in one of the malls, and the stock that was expected to last five weeks sold out so quickly the store had to close after only being open a few days. Shopping at this time of year is a serious business.

Through this whole time, the weather's been peculiarly warm, the kind of weather that's just at home in an Icelandic spring or summer as it is in descending winter. Days may be short on light, but they're crammed with cloud varieties, and just the kind of dramatic light I so love about this place.  This afternoon, after a rather dour morning of heavy clouds, the sun pierced through with marvelous island-illuminating side-light, so the harbor islands shone like gold coins, the white departing boats freshly starched dinner napkins spread on a navy table. It may not be a particularly Christmassy effect, but in the middle of such a crowd of activities, moments like that always remind me to breathe in the view and appreciate in every way exactly where I am right now, jumbled thoughts and all.


Professor Batty said...

I just wanted you to know that I'm still following your writing... It always helps me reach that very special place- my own private Iceland.

Thanks again (and again and again...)

ECS said...

glad to oblige.. the Iceland experience is a very individual thing so I'm glad my perspective is somehow in line with yours.