Morning Tea: Sometimes it Snows in April

It’s Easter Sunday. I’ve run out of Earl Grey tea and am forced to drink English breakfast instead. It snowed early this morning. It’s April 4th.

April 4th. Easter morning as seen through my filthy balcony door. Gleðilega páska.

I’m going to take this morning snow as the universe aligning with the topic of the latest episode of my music podcast. I’m one with the universe y’all. In the latest episode of Space Time Music, I listen to covers of April in Paris and Sometimes it Snows in April by the late, great, purple, paisley one known as Prince. It’s a song that reminds us that no matter our expectations and greatest wishes, sometimes life just does its own thing and sometimes that includes ending. Sometimes it snows in April and you have to drink a tea that isn’t your favorite. Them’s the breaks.

In other news, I finally made it up to the volcano in Geldingadalur with the husband and kids. It’s a pretty amazing sight. There’s a bit of steep hiking involved and a lot of sideways on rocky slopes walking. My knees and calves were not ready. We spent about five hours there, from sunset and into the night and the husband to help me down the mountain because I kept getting cramps in my calf muscles.

The Two Craters. Eruption in Geldingadalur.

That’s all for now. Despite the presence of snow on the ground I’m keeping the faith that ‘spring’, such as it is in Iceland, is still on the way with summer soon to follow. Happy Easter!

Morning Tea: Eruption in Geldingadalur (Castration Valley)

In the latest episode of The Raisin at the Hot Dog’s End my podcasting partner Jonas and I bring our listeners up to date on the goings on here in Iceland, including the recent eruption in Geldingadalur which roughly translates to Castration Valley.

New born rock, fresh from Mother Earth. Born March 21, 2021 in Geldingadalur, Iceland and now sitting on a plate on my kitchen table.

I won’t recount the podcast episode here but did want to share a little more of what it was like during the swarm and share a picture of the fresh rock so if that’s cool with you, carry on reading.

There are small earthquakes every day somewhere in Iceland. They’re usually small and not one feels them. But on Wednesday February 24, 2021 I was at a cafe having tea with friends when a 5.7 made the light fixtures sway and even the Icelanders present say, “I think that was an earthquake.” There was construction going on nearby so I wasn’t convinced until I kept getting texts notifications and then another smaller quake hit soon after.

That was the beginning and since then an earthquake swarm has been shaking Reykjanes peninsula for weeks. Many of the quakes, like the first, have been strong enough to be felt in Reykjavik which lies north and east of the peninsula.

At first, I was intrigued and amused. Buildings in Iceland are built to withstand fairly strong earthquakes. Although strongest of the swarm was that 5.7, on average, the ones we began feeling day-to-day were 3.3 to 4 ish. They’re not the kind of earthquakes that lay waste to human settlements but they were strong enough to rattle furniture and make you feel a little dizzy. You could hear the wave coming as the buildings shook and the thing within them rattled like maracas.

But then the first night quake hit and I was not so amused. Being awakened in the middle of the night by the earth shifting beneath you is not fun. After the first week, we were all getting pretty tired of the shaking. I posted on Facebook that it felt like living with an energetic toddler that just won’t sit the hell down and just when you think they’ve finally calmed down they jump on you and scream.

There was a good sized quake on Sunday the 14th of March, then things went relatively silent for a few days and you know when toddlers get quiet, they’re up to something. And then the meteorologic office of Iceland posted this update:

At around 20:45 UTC 19 March 2021, a volcanic eruption began at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The eruption was first seen on a web camera positioned close the mountain. It was also confirmed on thermal satellite imagery. 

Vedur.is

And all rejoiced. It was like we’d all given birth after weeks of labor. She is a tiny little thing, the smallest Iceland has seen in a while, gurgling and spewing lava but she’s ours. The husband and I have nightly dates where we watch our TV show of the moment and leave our phones in the bedroom so we didn’t see the news until after midnight. Being born and raised in Iceland and used to galavanting all over the highlands with maps, GPS and such at the ready, he (the husband), just couldn’t resist grabbing his gear (he’s a photographer) driving down in the middle of the night to see what he could see.

Of course the roads were closed and there aren’t any good paths to the site of the eruption so that night, he only got pics of the red glow emanating in the distance. Check out his Instagram for more pics. By Sunday morning, he’d plotted course and he and his best friend trekked across the rough terrain to watch the earth make more Iceland.

He came back in the late afternoon with a sore body, some great footage and a literal piece of newly created earth. Apparently hundreds of others went as well, some not anywhere near prepared for the journey. Sunday night the weather turned bad, like blizzard force winds and toxic eruption gas bad. Many people had to be rescued and some are yet to be found.

Scientists are saying this could be the beginning of an active period for the region meaning there will be more earthquakes and eruptions in the days, months or years to come…or not. That’s how it goes with earthquakes and such. We shall see.

Morning Tea: ‘Get Sun’ by Hiatus Kaiyote feat. Arthur Verocai

Brazilian composer and producer Arthur Verocai is still teaching the children a thing or two (and maybe learning some new tricks) in his latest collaboration with Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote.

Full disclosure, I didn’t discover this track while sipping my morning tea, it was while I was sipping my afternoon tea. I know. The scandal of it all. Part of my midday break is to work out (sometimes), have lunch and watch the YouTube which usually includes videos by drag queens, namely Bob the Drag Queen and Trixie Mattell. After I caught up on their new posts, the YouTube blessed me with Get Sun and it is delightful!

Arthur Verocai arranged the mess out of this one. There’s plenty of space for the usual soul-leaning Hiatus Kaiyote sound to do it’s thing but taken to a new level with the Brazilian sound coming through more and more at the halfway mark. Consult Papa Google for more details or just click play to get some musical sun.

Interview with the Common DJ: DJ LeGoom

On this week’s episode of Space Time Music I pour a cup and hop on a Zoom call with DJ LeGoom of New Jersey and get a Gen Z perspective on 20th and 21st century pop culture, audio formats and music.

DJ LeGoom is one of the coolest teenagers you will ever meet and yes, she is my niece so I am not completely objective but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ve been doing a series of episodes on my podcast where I interview my friends and get to know them a little bit better through their love of music and my niece was keen to get in on the action and I was excited to hear what the kids are listening to these days.

Just to be clear, only one of the people I’ve interviewed so far has ever been an actual DJ, my husband DJ Habit. Everyone else is just like you and me (unless you’re a DJ), regular folk who love listening to music. I ask each guest to create a DJ name for themselves as I think it helps get one in the mindset of being a music curator. Are we not the DJs of the soundtracks of our lives?

My niece’s DJ name is DJ LeGoom. She explains that it’s a stylized version of a part of her baby nickname, Bean. I think it’s cute and clever, much like my niece.

I then ask my guests a few simple questions to get the music memory juices flowing and their answers create what I like to call their music profile, the auditory lens, if you will, through which they hear all other music.

Boy, oh boy, was I not ready for the wave of nostalgia that smacked me in the face when I read her answers. (I have guests send me their answers ahead of time so that I can do a little research and prepare the music.) Memories of her tiny toddler self, sitting in the back seat of her mom’s car singing along to her favorite tunes, little legs dangling over the edge of her car seat as she sped down the New Jersey Turnpike and crossed the Arizano Bridge (she couldn’t say Verrazano back then) to come visit her aunt in Brooklyn (that was me). Tears.

Now she’s a teenager listening to K-Pop and bossa nova but I don’t want to spoil the episode for you. You’ll have to listen for yourself. You can find the interview questions in the show notes of any one of the “DJ” episodes. And if you just want to hang out, listen to some tunes and covers, follow a sample chain or two, check out some of the other episodes.

Morning Tea: ‘The History of White People In America’ and ‘Them’

It’s been an exhausting year of reckonings of all sorts for all of humanity. Thankfully we still make art to help us process it all.

Favorite cup at the moment

As I do most mornings, I was sipping on my piping hot cup of Earl Grey from a new favorite mug and scrolling through my social media feed. 45 is no longer president of the US but the gears and servers of terror churn on no matter who is at the helm, as the comments section of any post about Meghan Markle will attest. It’s a machine that’s built to last–the terror machine–and it was forged by those in power well before we formed this imperfect Union.

I came upon two video clips that throw into sharp relief what has been forgotten about the history of race in the US and what bubbles and seethes just under the surface before erupting in shocking and grotesque displays of violence that are straight out of a horror film.

In the morning, I am always hesitant to click on any article that talks about race in America because I just want to enjoy a few moments free of all the blegh that runs rife through the human experience. But this morning, for whatever reason, I took the plunge. The first was an article from back in June of 2020.

Back then, here in Iceland, we were emerging cautiously from lockdown but over at World Channel (working with PBS), Jon Halperin and Ed Bell were releasing The History of White People in America, an animated musical series examining race and injustice in the US. Meanwhile, I was just giddy to be able to be in the same room with people I didn’t live with.

The first episode of the series, How America Invented Race tells the story of how ‘whiteness’ became a thing. It’s a musical, but manages not to pull any punches while showing how those living in colonial America went from regarding each other based on nationality or ethnic group to assigning a ‘race’ based on skin color.

You can find Meghan Smith’s interview with the creators here.

After that I was primed and ready to do something else I don’t usually do first thing in the morning, watch the trailer for a horror series. I used to love a good scary movie but having kids put a serious damper on my appetite. Now that they’re older and we no longer live in a place where I fear for their safety whenever they walk out the front door, I’m slowly edging my way back into the genre.

In horror, we get to see all the fear and shame that lingers in our collective subconscious. The usual horror flicks with white teenage boys murdering white teenage girls after they’ve had sex (and definitely kill all the black people first because in an ideal white America, there are no black people) and ‘aliens’ come from outer space to destroy ‘our’ way of life and take ‘our’ jobs are so 20th century.

Candyman punched a hole in the horror glass ceiling back in 1992 and since then films and shows such as Get Out, Us, Lovecraft Country and the like have broadened the scope of visual horror and thriller storytelling in the US.

And next up on the scene is Them a series created and executive produced by Little Marvin. A black family moves into a white neighborhood in 1950s Los Angeles. The neighbors welcome them smiling faces but we all know there’s more to it than meets the eye and terror ensues.

It comes out April 6 on Amazon Prime so I probably won’t be watching it as I canceled my Amazon Prime subscription and there’s probably some annoying regional restriction as well. Why can’t we all just watch all the shows regardless of where we live? Cause money and power, that’s why. And if you watched the The History of White People in America video up top, you know that’s also why we have race. Ugh.

We All Saw This Coming

Image by Lydia Holt

My thoughts have been all over the place lately and this piece is more emotional vomit than anything else. If you are looking for a succinct and thorough run down of how the US of A got into its current state, Michael Harriot of The Root, created this amazing timeline of events. If you care to read my thoughts, disjointed as they are, keep reading.

I’m a black American woman and a history buff. I saw this coming and so did most black Americans. You can’t have the kind of history that America has, put a horrid imbecile of a human, dead set on returning America to its pre-Civil War era status, at the helm and not expect this result.

Ever since the 45th president of the USA began his campaign for his current position I have had the opening lines from the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film playing in my head, fluttering in and out so that sometimes it’s louder than others but never completely goes away.

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.

Galadriel (Spoken by Treebeard to Galadriel in the book)

But it’s not so much that the world is changed as that people have forgotten how horrible the world can be when we let assholes run shit. What’s even more painful is to realize that many of your fellow Americans are more than happy to see the country go to hell in a hand basket just as long as they get to sit in the upper most part of the basket. This is what’s on my mind as Icelandic summer rolls around, with its 24-hour sunlight and almost COVID-19 free, and American cities rise up in protest against anti-black racism and police brutality.

I say, “we all saw this coming” but from what I’ve seen on social media, a LOT of white folks are surprised by both the rampant racism in America and America being completely unprepared for a pandemic. But NONE of this is surprising. Not one bit of it.

As much as I was reluctant to leave NYC three years ago, I am so glad we did. My family and I were very fortunate to have the option to move out of the US and to a country that doesn’t have a military or armed police and is small enough to quickly contain and handle a pandemic. Most Americans don’t have that option and are, as I write this, fighting for the most basic of human rights, the right to live. And I don’t just mean black Americans, I’m talking about the 99%. It is absolutely ridiculous that Americans have to choose whether they will pay for food, their rent/mortgage, healthcare or education. People who can afford three out of four of these things consider themselves lucky #blessed and it shouldn’t be so.

The everyday stress of stretching paychecks as far as they can possibly go and still not being able to afford necessities such as healthcare, is significantly compounded if you are not a well-educated, white, typically abled, cis-het, property owning man. And it has been this way for centuries. For hundreds of years, this has been the reality. Back in 1776, America’s founding fathers––well-educated, landowning and in many cases, enslavers and human traffickers––dangled the idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness before the eyes of white men, the soon-to-be Americans, entreating them to rise up against the tyranny of the British Empire, ignoring the tyranny they themselves were already wielding against the landless and enslaved.

This magical idea of all* men having inalienable rights was irresistible, even to the black men who didn’t see the teeny-tiny asterisk above all denoting that it only applied to white men. When they said all, they really meant only some. I think some white folks think there’s an asterisk type situation going on with #blacklivesmatter and that’s why they don’t get that it does not mean only black lives matter just that black lives matter too.

Sure, there were debates about the hypocrisy of founding a country on notions of freedom while enslaving thousands but for wealthy, landowning white men, the benefits of “free” labor far out-weighed the horror of it all.

Change has rippled through America at a glacial pace since the British were defeated in 1781. Slavery was eventually abolished and women got the right to vote but the seeds of inequality planted then are still bearing strange, mangled fruit today. No matter how many times the people, the masses, the ones who make America, America, try to erase that damned asterisk, it just won’t go away, not completely. It feels like we take two steps forward and then are dragged 150 years backward. Hundreds of thousands of people shouldn’t be dead from this pandemic and state sponsored murder and yet, here we are. The very foundations of America haven’t changed, they remain as bloody and rotten as ever.

Top 10 Reasons Iceland May Not Be Your Jam

Skógafoss

Or your gig, or your bag or whatever it is the kids are saying these days. Iceland is not for everyone and that is OK. Not all people, places and things are for all people. I get into the reasons Iceland may not be for you Late Night with David Letterman-style down below.

10. You’re a big fan of carrying a personal firearm. Iceland just doesn’t get down like that. Nobody carries guns, not even beat cops.

9. You like your day/sunlight and night/darkness in moderation. You’d be fine in the spring or autumn but the 24hrs of daylight in mid-summer is not everyone’s cup of tea. Similarly, the deep, dark, dank winter months are ROUGH.

8. You like warmth. Iceland NEVER gets hot. NEVER. Not even at the height of summer. You might get a warm day or hour here or there but walking around all day in shorts, skirts, summer dresses, tank tops and sleeveless shirt is not a thing here. Layer up children.

7. You hate nature. One of the best things about Iceland is that draw dropping, stunning, gorgeous natural beauty is all over and easy to get to. If hiking up a mountain at midnight in summer and driving out into the middle of nowhere in the cold-ass winter to look at the northern lights sound like torture, yeah, Iceland is not for you.

6. You love the noise and hustle and bustle of big cities. Iceland is fresh outta big cities. Reykjavík is a small city with a tiny bit of hustle and not a bit of bustle to be found. It’s so quiet, I couldn’t sleep through the night for a few weeks after moving, and I live in “noisy” downtown.

5. You hate to drive. Reykjavík has a serious car addiction. If you live anywhere but downtown Reykjavík and the immediate neighborhoods you have to drive to get just about anywhere. The city buses in Reykjavík aren’t too bad but they ain’t cheap. 

4. You really like keeping to a schedule and for everything to be orderly and organized. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen or it might…there’s a possibility but I wouldn’t count on anyone knowing anything about whatever may or may not be going on at any given time. Good luck with that. Þetta reddast.

3. You believe variety is the spice of life. Not much in the way of variety in Iceland…except maybe the various kinds of crap weather. Iceland really knows how to diversify in that sector. Everything else, you’re gonna have maybe two choices and it’s gonna be expensive.

2. You love a bargain. Kiss your coins goodbye cause just about everything on this island has to be imported and it costs a pretty penny to get it here. Get ready to shell out more money than you ever imagined you would for produce, books, electronics, video games–you name it, you’re gonna pay for it. The good thing about this is that you end up getting your priorities straight on what you’re willing to spend your hard earned cash on.

1. You’re a horrible person who hates sheep. I mean really, how can you hate sheep? It’s not their fault people brought them here and they aided in the deforestation of Iceland. Damn, can’t sheep get a break?! 

Best Places to Get a Good Cup of Tea in Reykjavík

tea and tea ball in white cup

Icelanders LOVE their coffee so you can get a great cup just about anywhere. But my Icelandic peeps aren’t too hip to the tea jive, which makes it difficult for a tea drinker like myself to find a cafe that serves a good cup of tea. In two years of living in Reykjavík I’ve managed to find a few places that know how to (to misquote Missy Elliot) put the kettle on, steep it and (re)serve it…with cake, yummy, yummy cake.

Kaffi Laugarlækur

Laugarnesvegur 74a, 105 Reykjavík

This place is kind of a hidden gem. It’s not in downtown Reykjavík but in a neighboring emerging hipster (not the kind you want to trip because they’re so freakin’ pretentious but maybe just poke really hard because they’re on the verge) neighborhood. They serve a lovely pot of tea and have great vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. Two pinky fingers holding a fancy tea cup up from me.

Kaffi Brennslan

Laugavegur 21, 101 Reykjavík

Kaffi Brennslan is smack dab in the middle of Laugavegur, has a small yet carefully selected variety of loose leaf and bagged teas and has yummy cakes. All of these elements combined make it the bees knees in my book. Did I mention they also have waffles? Served with chocolate and whipped cream? Yeah. Tasty.

Slippbarinn

Mýrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík

Amid the mid-century chic with a sprinkling of industrial decor, Slippbarinn serves a pretty decent little pot of tea (and a yummy slice of carrot cake) with a view of the old harbor. One of the things I love about it is that you can sit at the bar, at one of the nearby tables, or take your pot o’ tea to a little nook surrounded by shelves decorated with all manner of interesting knick-knacks. 

Te & Kaffi

Laugavegur 27, 101 Reykjavík

There’s nothing spectacular about the tea here and some locations serve the tea after it’s been steeped so you can’t be sure of the strength. Stay with me here. The thing I like about Te & Kaffi is that they sell loose leaf tea. I can get my Earl Grey at a fairly reasonable price and brew it to my liking, in my kitchen and then watch a Korean drama or work on my novel manuscript which I am sure I will finish in the next few years or so.

Súfistinn Kaffihús

Strandgata 9, Hafnarfjörður

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but this cafe is actually in downtown Hafnafjörður. The cafe itself is cozy with two creaky floors of old, small town charm. I will say that they were a little heavy handed with the tea leaves but I prefer my too strong than too weak. Added bonus, you can sit upstairs by one of their old school wood frame windows and watch the denizens of Hafnafjörður go about their…Hafnafjörðuring.

Honorable Mentions:

Stofan Kaffihús

Aðalstræti, 101 Reykjavík

You’ll get your classic eclectic coffee house vibe here but what you won’t get is freshly boiled hot water hitting your tea leaves. After I ordered my tea I was given a tea cup, tea bag and pointed in the direction of a hot water dispenser. Not ideal but not bad. And since is right downtown, if you hang out long enough (and by that I mean a few seconds) you’re bound to run into someone you know and possibly even like.

Cafe Haiti

Geirsgata 5C, 101 Reykjavík

This is another case of nice vibe and OK tea. Cafe Haiti is right by the old harbor and has a whimsical ocean theme going on and the chocolate cake is tasty. That said, my tea was served as hot water in a tea cup, with a tea bag on the side. It’s a common tea-serving/making problem in cafes in Iceland but, as I said about Stofan, the atmosphere and location make up for the lack of exceptional tea.

There you have it folks, the tea hot spots of Reykjavík (*whispers* and Hafnafjörður). Check them out if you’re in town. Tell them Lydia sent you. They’ll have no idea who I am but it will make you seem quirky and memorable and possibly get you an even better cup of tea…and a bigger slice of cake.

Guess Who Has a Podcast?

The Raisin at the Hot Dog’s End podcast

Me, Kettle Talkers! That’s right, me and my fellow American in Iceland Jonas launched our podcast earlier this month. I broached the idea back in December or January–sometime before I started my second job at the Kindergarten and was feeling a bit bleh about everything. We were going for a walk because it was allegedly a nice day out and all the snow was melted. But when we reached our destination, a park whose name I cannot recall, we discovered that everything out in nature was still covered in snow; a thin layer of snow that hid slippery as hell ice underneath. So as we gingerly walked (engaging our cores) and then slid and slipped along, we talked about what we were going to do in Iceland. I confessed that I wanted to try my hand at a podcast and secretly harbored a desire to do voiceover work. We talked about our favorite podcasts (shout out to 2 Dope Queens and My Favorite Murder) and what we would do if we had podcasts. We left it at that. Nothing planned, nothing concrete, just thoughts blowing away in the gale force Icelandic winds.

After a pilgrimage back to the motherland for some hot sun and family time Jonas returned to Iceland rejuvenated and invigorated. “We should totally do a podcast,” he said. “Right?!” I answered. That’s basically the way the conversation went. We both have kids and Jonas’s are not yet in elementary school and by this time I had started my second job but we weren’t going to let lack of time and mental energy get us down. We had podcast meetings in the brief time between getting off work and kid pick-ups. We rambled into a borrowed microphone we barely knew how to use and I hacked and pieced our first episode together and oh the fun we had doing it! After getting our own, less high tech but more user-friendly microphone, the episodes came fast and furious cause when we get together, we go on and on. Through my cold, an impatient one-year-old, airplanes flying overhead and completely not recording one episode when we totally thought we were recording, we recorded five episodes. Woo! They are available wherever you listen to podcasts and on our podcast website.

Listen, enjoy and do me a solid, subscribe, rate us, write a review–all three would be great doing just one would be of immense help. We are @raisinandhotdog on most social media.

Takk, takk and bless, bless y’all! (Thank you and bye-bye y’all!)

The Sun Is Back!

Me, our Isuzu Trooper (named Rosie, of course) and a travel mug of Earl Grey. Photo by Snorri Sturluson

I know I look all peaceful and serene in the pictures in this post and that’s because I am. Me and the family had a wonderful time frolicking around Langjökull and touring the nearby Víðgelmir cave yesterday. It was a good day but, let me tell you people of the interwebs, internets and intertubes, F*cking January, as per usual, was hard as f*ck. I have never met a January I liked in all my forty plus years and this January was true to form. The good news is the sun is making a comeback. I know, don’t call it a comeback, it’s been here for millennia but still I think this moment calls for a hallelujah. Hallelujah!

Me, with my tea, on some rocks near Langjökull.

As I suspected, the holiday lights went out after New Year’s Day and it was like the air was let out of everything. I have never stopped missing home but the missing suddenly felt so much deeper. At the same time I felt like spikes were growing underneath my skin and at any moment they would shoot out. I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin. Is that what island fever feels like? In any case, two things helped carry me through. One was talking to the husband about my feelings. He really is a gem, that one. And he encouraged me to get another job in addition to the part-time one I already have. Who has time to wallow in self pity when you have to get up and go to work everyday? I live in my head a lot which can be great for creative pursuits but can bend towards being unhealthy, especially when combined with not enough sunlight, homesickness and did I mention the horrible weather? So yeah, in the long tradition of my step-ancestors of the West Indies I have two jobs. I know they would shake their heads and suck their teeth at me having so few jobs but if you count this blog, the other blog I haven’t written anything for in months and my design website (see that travel mug, I created the design on it and I put that shit on t-shirts too) that kind of makes up another part-time job, yeah? Who am I kidding? There’s no impressing West Indian elders.

Skógafoss

At any rate, I’m now working part-time at a preschool. Yes, you read that right, the person who doesn’t like children is working with small children. I know, it’s a shock to me too and not nearly as stressful as I thought it would be. The first two weeks were exhausting but now I’m kind of getting used to the flow, the constant chatter and their boundless energy. The kids are teaching me Icelandic and lots and lots of patience and the other teachers are teaching me how to be Icelandic. For example, if you go abroad, when you come back, everyone expects you stock up on candy at the duty free and bring it to work. I’m sure there are some other more subtle cultural shit I’m picking up but I probably won’t notice that until later. The kids have also validated a theory I have about humanity within the span of just a few weeks. My theory is that there are no good people and bad people, there are only people. It makes us feel good to other-ize murderers, thieves, rapists and assholes but the truth is that is all part of human behavior. It’s not some sort of anomaly, it’s perfectly human and we are all capable of doing horrible things. The kid that will hug a friend when they’re sad will turn around and, quite literally, kick the mess out of that same friend when they are down. I have seen it with my own two eyes. I know, you’re thinking, well, small children’s brains aren’t fully developed so yadda, yadda, yadda but you know full well that fully grown humans with fully developed brains can behave in the same way. Watching the kids play out the range of human behavior got me thinking that we, meaning humans, just can’t seem to not mess up a good thing. We will always find a way to mess it up and big time.

Island in Skógá river covered in Icelandic birch trees.

Speaking of humans messing things up. There are a few spots in Iceland that were not completely deforested by humans and the sheep brought along for the ride. The national parks are protected and have forest areas, one of which we saw yesterday. It’s a small forest (which would look like a field of shrubs to non-Icelanders) on the way to Langjökull. There is also a small inaccessible island in the middle of the Skógá river covered in small Icelandic birch trees. In the winter, they look mostly like a reddish gray blanket on the landscape but in summer they’re like a carpet of green. So much more of Iceland used to look like this one tiny island and the national parks. Skógafoss is a waterfall in the Skógá river and it’s name means, waterfall in the forest. Yeah, the whole area around that tiny island was once covered in birch forest but, you know, humans. I understand that humans deforested Iceland to survive but isn’t that just so damned typically human to weasel our way into a place we have no business being in and then survive to the detriment of everything else around us which in the end turns out to also be a detriment to ourselves? We just can’t help cutting off our noses to spite our faces every chance we get.

I didn’t start out writing this post with the intent to go so doom and gloom but that’s kind of my style. Everything in the world is great and wonderful and simultaneously horrific and terrible. January was long and dreary but is finally over. February brought a lot more sun and enlightenment via 2 to 5 year-olds and March ain’t looking too shabby. Bring on the 24 hour sunlight! Until then, the kettle is on.