Postcard #2: Iceland

October 7, 2014 at 8:31 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Yesterday I was clattering away on this keyboard when a low rumble started. I looked to the ceiling of my studio, frowning. The rumble became a roar. I stood up and grabbed a pen: I still don’t know why. I felt the roof shake, and for one anxious moment wondered if Icelanders had an avalanche warning, the way Australian schoolchildren listen for bush fire sirens.

And then I watched as a huge pile of snow slid from the edges of the roof, and smashed to the ground outside my window.

‘Ja,’ Siggi nodded later, when I asked him about it. ‘That happens a lot. Just remember not to stand underneath it while you take off your boots.’

I slid another piece of hardfiskur into my mouth, dried fish smeared with butter, and nodded back. ‘Good to know, Siggi…good to know.’

It’s the first week of my writing residency here in Iceland, and I’m already planning my application to come back. Ólafsfjörður is a tiny fishing village in the north, on the mouth of the fjord Eyjafjörður, reached after a whole day on several buses. Remote is the right word. The village is connected by a harrowing one lane tunnel that cuts through the mountain, and had me gripping the sides of my seat as headlights approached from the opposite direction. But when the tunnel opened up and I saw my home for the next month, I may have actually gasped.

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It’s indescribably beautiful here. That’s hard for me to admit, because that’s pretty much my job: to describe it. But it’s also my job to trawl for stories, to sit with my notebook open in my gloved hands, and beckon the stories within. And I’m happy to say, I haven’t stopped writing since I got here.

I wake early each morning. The light here is different, and sometimes I just sit with a coffee, watching the sun move across the snow. Then I walk through the gallery space to my studio. I curl up cross-legged, log onto PBS or RRR radio for some tunes, and write.

I write for hours at a stretch.

Every day.

Cilla has the studio next door, listening to Swedish radio and working on her projects. Sometimes we take a break at the same time, smiling and stretching as we shake the kinks from our spines. Etza and Oranje sit in opposite ends of the lounge room, one bent over her guitar while the other taps on her keyboard, all of us inspired and enthused and so locked in our creative world that sometimes, when we look up and remember the mountains, we feel the breath knocked out of us all over again.

Yesterday Etza took her guitar and harmonica outside. We all followed her. We sat on the bench next to the front door, heads back and eyes closed, basking in the Arctic sun like lazy cats. These are the memories I want to always remember, no matter where in the world I next land.

Etza playing

Yesterday I went swimming with Sigrid, a Belgian artist who lives in the second house of the residency, further along the village. Outside swimming pools are the norm here but to emerge in our bathers in the icy air was odd for us, to say the least. When I climbed into the hot tub though, geothermal water heated and beyond blissful, my groans of delights made even the Icelanders laugh. And so we bobbed there, the water jets pummelling our tired muscles, looking up at the snow capped mountains, floating with feet pointed.

I pruned up, but still I stayed there. Then I went home, made another coffee, and wrote some more.

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The only thing is, I keep waking in the middle of the night to peer through my blinds and see if the northern lights have started without me. More than once I’ve run outside, barefoot and in my underwear, thinking I’ve seen a shimmer of green or red snaking past the mountain tops.

I haven’t, though.

Not yet.

When I do, I’ll let you know.

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19 Comments

  1. Martin C. said,

    Arrrghhh…Soo Jealous..:). Do they have Trolls in Iceland?.

    MC

  2. Martin C. said,

    Oh my, just checking out your town on GE….It looks so pristine…Damn, i miss the crispness of fallen snow….And now i’ve got a “fun” Australian summer to look forward too :(….

    • inkymouth said,

      I spent today down by the ocean, watching the waves smash against the black volcanic soil. It’s beyond beautiful, Martin. And I’m beyond blessed to be here, soaking it all up.

  3. freetoeknee PHOTOGRAPHY said,

    such gorgeous words…

    • inkymouth said,

      You might be a little biased, you 🙂 So lovely to have you here, reading.

  4. Jessica Tremp said,

    This is just so wonderful to read. I’m soaking up every morsel darling
    It’s magic, that place
    x

  5. Amanda Witt said,

    Love your words as usual.

    • inkymouth said,

      Thanks so much, Amanda. The only thing missing here is a four-legged creature to scratch…what I wouldn’t give for some feline eyes staring me down while I write!

  6. Leith said,

    Incredible description Bellzebub, you are still pinching yourself no doubt.. and so good to hear the words are pouring out. You may need more red notebooks ha!
    Enjoyed reading about Paris too.. would have enjoyed visiting the Lizard Kings resting spot not to mention all the other historical luminaries in that cemetery. Fab stuff.

    • inkymouth said,

      I’m writing smaller and smaller in my little red notebooks, Leith! My diary is the one I had with me in Russia, and I’m inching closer to the end, unfortunately. I know that out of my 37 others (!), this will remain one of my favourites.

      I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I went looking in Père Lachaise for Modigliani for you….and I couldn’t find him. I had to make do with the Lizard King and Colette. Next time, ok?

  7. Dorie Mol said,

    Wow! You’re in a lovely place! I’m a little envious… Keep up the writing… I enjoy reading your “reports”.

  8. Duncan Waldron said,

    Some of those pictures look like the Scotland I grew up in; but of course it’s different: *glaciers still live there*. Glaciers, dammit! Green light, rivers of ice, dried fish, and those baffling linguistic accents and characters. What *is* the Icelandic for Red Riding Hood? Looking forward to more.

    • inkymouth said,

      I love how one day, after a snow flurry, the entire town looks pristine and white. A day later, however, it’s all melted away and the gorgeous autumnal colours have returned. She’s putting on some show for me, Duncan 🙂

  9. gretchen said,

    Damn yo. I can’t wait to read what you are weaving in those mountains darling. And the staaaaaars. Sigh. I love you. x

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