I must confess, this post was written several moons ago, as part of a much longer one. The view from my window now is a very different one indeed. This year seems to have been one of Big Things, and sometimes they have become too overwhelming to deal with, let alone to write about. So in the spirit of making my way through one small piece at a time, I shall in time reveal the gems in the rubble, and in longer time hopefully the rubble itself. There are many shifts occurring, and us sensitive types are quite taken up by it. Making the space to feel is a bigger challenge than we might imagine. For now, I shall leave you with the colours of an Icelandic autumn, which filled my senses before I migrated southwards – a refugee of the darkness. This was written in late September from our home in the Westfjords.
It is that time of year again when the mountains outside my window become enshrouded in mist, and, clinging to their slopes the birch, berries and rowan trees ignite in a riotous palette of fire. The ravens have restored their positions as kings of sky and lamp post. They never went away in summer, but they seemed to take a background position – high, high in the sky – to the gulls and the arctic terns, who are now making their way to the southern hemisphere. It is a season that turns you to introspection; taking stock of the many stories of summer.
And it is time for the annual sheep round up. The sheep have been languishing in three months of sunshine up in the mountains, and now the winds are changing and it is time to come back to their birthplace. This year I have been involved with two gatherings and a lambing season, as the farmers of those flocks are part of a film that I’m making. Not to mention being an integral part of my inherited family’s, and now my circle here. The gatherings can be quite an event, involving a good part of the community of any given sveit (area of countryside) and their friends and extended family. It is a two day affair that requires stamina and hardship for the men and women on the mountain top, patience for the children who are sent up ravines and down to the shore to bring in stragglers, and an abundance of restorative coffee, cake and meat soup to be served at the end of the day. This year there has been too much sun and too little rain. The majority of Westfjordian farmers have struggled to make enough hay to feed their flocks through the winter, so they are being forced to slaughter more sheep than usual.
Those who help with the gathering are usually given some meat once the chosen ones have been slaughtered, which usually happens a week or two later. I have to have a reality check sometimes when sights, such as my man coming home with a shoulder of lamb that he’s just cut from a whole one hanging in his parents’ garage, become normal. Though I much prefer this level of involvement in what I eat to shopping in a bland supermarket for meat wrapped in plastic – its story untold, its true origins unknown. Now begins again the season of eating meat, and sleeping long.