Summer Solstice in Iceland
June 21, 2011
With our students off on their independent travel, I finally have the presence of mind to post an entry. This evening Michael Novak and I had a delicious dinner of grilled lamb and salad fresh from the geothermally heated greenhouse with our good friends Holmfrithur and Baldwin. We laughed at the antics of a wild bird who often eats and drinks in a wind shelter Baldwin has created for her with a length of plastic he tucked between two planks on their deck. It's been cold and windy all spring here, and clearly the mama bird appreciates Baldwin's care.
After dinner, we took a leisurely walk down to the boiling springs that surface near the river Bruará and supply all the hot water here in Skálholt. It was silent at the river except for the gurgling of one small rapid and the complaints and calls of dozens and dozens of birds of all kinds. A pair of swans flew off in a big circle and then landed rather grumpily on the water, and all around us oyster catchers sat on tufts of moss, guarding their young from these two-legged invaders who had interrupted the evening scene. We stood at the river for the longest time, watching the steam rise all around us with the sunset reflecting on the water and listening to the bird calls and every now and then the huge deep flapping of a swan's wings somewhere across the river.
On the way back up to our cabins we encountered the horse herd that ranges freely over our area. There are 7 foals, some tiny; at least one more mare ready to deliver any day; and a gorgeous slim young stallion, nearly black and very shiny, with that thick Icelandic mane, who is feeling his oats and very protective right now. We stood at a conservative distance and watched the whole pageant of life play out as foals slept, played, and nursed and the stallion bred a mare right then and there. Then we slowly walked back, watching as the sun barely dipped behind the mountains to our north. The sunset will go on for a couple of hours, and then by 2 a.m. the orange will have slipped into pink and it will be dawn.