Snaefellsnes

I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change recently. It’s always in the back of my mind and I try to do my best to reduce my own contributions but lately it has moved to the forefront of my thinking. Recently a friend posted this on his facebook wall: http://en.newsner.com/man-points-camera-at-ice-then-captures-the-unimaginable-on-film/about/nature

Never in living memory has an Icelander experienced a winter so remarkably like a summer. I’m no native, but even I am profoundly aware of that this is far from normal. It was 14c in the Eastfjords a few days back. The average temperature in Skagaströnd for February has been about 6c. I’ve laid on the grass at the back of the studio a few times watching beautiful sunsets in jeans and shirt. No hat, no gloves, no scarf. I shouldn’t be able to see the grass, let alone be comfortable lying on it.

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Meanwhile, here’s a few odd things that I’ve discovered in the last few weeks that amuse me.

  1. I didn’t see a shadow for the entirety of January. Shadows simply ceased to exist.
  2. Mountains covered in snow can stand beside oceans. I first ‘discovered’ this as an anomaly when I visited South Korea two years ago, so it’s not entirely unfamiliar, but still notable when in your own reality, the two should be far apart.
  3. Waterfalls can fall into the ocean, not just continue as rivers. This had never occurred to me before! In Iceland, they do it all the time.
  4. When driving at night, I catch myself scanning the edges of the road, super focussed, only to realise nothing’s going to hop in front of my car. So I relax. Then I start scanning again. And again. And again. It’s just so ingrained.
  5. Related to the above. I’ve never seen any roadkill of any kind. Nor any birds feasting on said roadkill taking off as my car approaches.
  6. Iceland doesn’t have trees. Other artists from different parts of the world respond strongly to this. To me, after years living in the Pilbara and having driven across the Nullabor, it’s perfectly natural.
  7. When I speak my few words of Icelandic, I’ve discovered I have a northern accent.  The other day for the first time, I was spoken back to (twice!) in rapid Icelandic and had to apologetically explain that I don’t actually speak the language. Sitting in a hot tub in Olafsvik, a local then taught me how to say “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Icelandic.”  I must be getting a bit better at it. Doesn’t stop the Skagaströnd locals laughing at my attempts though.
  8. The time between sunrise and sunset increases by around 15-20 minutes per day. Plus twilight. At the time of writing this, we are now well over 9 hours of daytime. It was 3 when I arrived on January 2nd. I’m used to about a 2 minute variation and a twilight that’s like a light switch.
  9. If I had ADHD, I wouldn’t visit Iceland. It’s just too stimulating. Overwhelmingly so. As a fellow artist said last night, “It’s like visiting the Tate. You just get so overwhelmed, you have to leave without seeing it all.”
  10. Lot’s of parts of Iceland have their own micro climates. Driving back and forth through Olafsvik a few nights ago was like driving the Millenium Falcon in Hyperspace mode. 3km either side of the town was just normal night driving. No snow, rain, hail or anything. This happens all the time all over the country.

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The images in this week’s blog are all of Snaefellsnes. Ask me how to pronounce it when I get home. We got lucky here with snow on the second day. On arriving, we enjoyed seeing the brilliant green mosses that grow all over the lava fields, waking the next to find the green transformed to white. Brilliant sunshine was followed up with rainbows and snow showers. There’s much I could say about Snaefellsnes but to be honest, it gets hard to put into words.

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This is my last full week in Skagaströnd. I must leave by Tuesday 28th at the latest. It’s crept up mighty fast.  I was invited stay on and work at the local restaurant, using the upstairs space as a private art studio. After 10 days agonising over it, I’ve decided not to take the opportunity. Although I know it’s the right decision, I can’t help feeling teary eyed about it. I’ve made some great friends here and leaving them behind is going to be bittersweet.

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