Today, July 6th, is the first full day of sun I have seen in the last six weeks that I have been living in Iceland. We are talking a brilliant blue sky without a single cloud, instead of an ominously gray one. Light, cool breezes instead of heavy winds. No random showers throughout the day. It’s warm. Honest-to-God warm. (Although I can’t bring myself to call it hot, no matter what the natives say.) I was beginning to think this just doesn’t happen here.
It gets better. Just when I thought that my only enjoyment of this miraculous weather would be via digging trenches this morning (shout out to manual labor!) and perhaps reading in the yard later, I was informed that the herd was about to pack up for a little trip, oh and did I care to join them?
Now I say “the herd” because our numbers have multiplied like rabbits in spring over the last few days. There are 12 people living at my host’s home this week: besides my host, her four children, and me, we also have her niece, a former volunteer and her daughter, and a friend with her two sons. It’s a lot of kids and a lot of German and yeah – it’s a bit overwhelming. I feel that, having reached an even dozen, I can now refer to our group as a herd.
To be honest, the population increase, dreary weather, and loss of my traveling buddy have not done wonders for my mood. I escape to my room a lot now, and I’m ploughing through novels at a rate surprising even for me. I’ve also had no inspiration to write, always a side effect of boredom and listlessness.
There are a lot of things that can instantly reverse my mood though. Food, for instance. Really good food will always perk me up. Waterfalls also do the trick. Oh look, I’m in the land of waterfalls. How immensely convenient. Combine forest, waterfall, cave, and sun, and you’ve got today’s recipe for peaceful inspiration.
Which brings me back to the herd and our trip. After crowding all the kids into a random bus that appeared on the property yesterday (I’m still trying to figure out if my host seriously just bought a bus), we headed about twenty minutes down the road to a spot near a small cascade called Gluggafoss I had visited a week or so ago. Our destination was a little closer and far more concealed. Although someone called it a private forest, I believe it’s open to anyone who visits and simply isn’t advertised to tourists, which would explain why we went through two separate gates after parking and had the whole place to ourselves.
There were trees. A full grove of them! Let me explain the significance: Iceland and trees are not great friends. There are some things growing outside my host home that I would call thin bushes. They are 14-year-old trees. I recently ran over a stick hiding among the grass while mowing. It was a two-year-old tree. The rate of growth is *ahem* slow. To say the least. Icelanders call what we visited today a forest, and they boast of the few they have with the pride an avid gardener would show toward her prize rhododendron. I find it a little amusing, but having not stood in the shade of a tree for six weeks, I also get it.
This grove was a particular delight to stroll through, thanks to the trickling brook, moss-covered stones, and secluded bridge. Upon exiting the other side, you find that the trees have been grouped around a tall but thin waterfall cascading down a cliff ledge and creating the aforementioned stream.
With sunlight abounding, rainbows were playing in the mist from every angle. At its deepest, the water was perhaps eight inches, and despite its icy temperature, shoes and socks were abandoned in seconds in favor of rock-hopping, wading, and running barefoot through the long grass.
I absolutely adore being barefoot and have only gotten the chance to shed my shoes once or twice here due to the cold, so I was in my element. Along the left side of the waterfall the rocks were easy to scramble over, and we did a bit of barefoot climbing, exploring Gluggabòi, or “window cave,” which has circular entrances on each side and a large window in the center looking over the forest.
After doing my fair share of exploring, I laid out on the grass and soaked in some vitamin D, so basically, I looked like this:
And like magic, I was inspired to write again. Granted, I’ll still be spending a lot of time hiding from the herd and devouring books in the semi-privacy of my room, but a little sunshine and Icelandic nature have definitely boosted my mood. Here’s hoping for many bright days ahead!
And may I note that I did not enhance any of these pictures. The amazing shade of green still shocks me.