Big weather change: wet (although not much so), foggy (much so), and temp in the mid-30s. I’d rather this wasn’t happening just as I prepare to launch into the Westfjords region, said to be the most unpopulated except for the Highlands. The main problem is visibility—driving is difficult, of course (and I’m surprised at finding Icelanders seemingly in so much of a hurry when behind the wheel) and equally important, I can’t see the countryside. I had a clear hour this morning after I left Akureyri and it was a landscape I especially like: great valleys, meaning deep and wide, presumably glacier-carved for the most part. There are few trees although small acreage areas here-and-there that have straight-line perimeters suggesting either remnants from cutting or tree farms. The country is softer than I anticipated, not as rocky, although there is abundance of lava field, but even it is very often softened by moss and wonderfully diverse little “fields” of leafy plants and grasses, all very low to the rock. The valleys and mountains are often covered by a variety of plants but rarely trees. Lots of sheep and horses (for pleasure riding, I assume), very few cows and almost no row crops among all the hay fields. Isolated homesteads are always multi-building with barns for animals and equipment, a house, and a variety of smaller shelters. I thought, as I peered through the fog at these home places and the few small communities I passed through, about the wide variety of environments people make themselves at home in, and I wondered which, if any, are overall best for the people inhabiting them and what makes them so. Relative isolation and regular contact with limited numbers and kinds of people would seem a possibly impoverished way of life, yet I think that bigness of towns and populations is depleting in its own way, and if I had to choose would go small. I imagine that the fewer people in an area the greater the solidarity among them; certainly, there can’t be anonymity or impersonal relationships and people are likely to feel more accountable to and for one another. Chances for depth relationships might even be increased.


Photo by Josh Reid on Unsplash

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