23 August: I’ve been in the Faroes for over 24 hours and am still having a difficult time putting into words my response to the place. As the airplane made its approach and I got my first views of the islands, I immediately sensed that this was a landscape I would love. Looking down it was all remnant basalt peaks and long narrow buttes that looked flat but tilted on top and everything not vertical was the deep green of well-watered grass. Streams were common and making their way by fall and cascade down mountainsides into the sea having cut channels into the rock; I assume the water’s source was rainfall percolated through the shallow soil with nothing more to do than return to the Atlantic. Everything I could see as we descended seemed to fit variations on this pattern. Then I rented a car and drove for an hour to the village I would stay in for two nights, Gjogv. Road numbers were uncommon and most signs being exclusively in Faroese, which like Greenlandic and Icelandic I find totally unpronounceable, not to mention uninterpretable, were useless to me. But these are small islands with few roads and I have a good map so I made it without any wrong turns, which in this small place wouldn’t much matter anyway.
In Greenland, I admired deeply what geology, land, and climate have put together but it intimidated, was forbidding, a place for me to respect without quite loving. Here in the Faroes I feel quite different, as if I’d found a kind of home, almost as I felt on encountering the Sierra Nevada 34 years ago. But the Sierra is a relationship I’ve been able to cultivate for all the intervening years whereas here it will be brief, except in memory, a long-distance care that will survive the diminution of love at first sight. It will take some reflecting over the coming days on what exactly it is that drew me out so.