September 18, 2006
The puffins leave Iceland toward the end of August. The nights incrementally fade from bright to dim to properly dark. The stars poke tiny holes in that new darkness, and eventually the Northern Lights dance across the sky as autumn approaches. During our final days of work, flocks of birds were heading to warmer places, and the sheep that had been running wild in the mountains all summer were being rounded up. The lush green landscapes began to age into softer golden hues, and the rowan trees hung low, laden with their bright red berries.
Oh yes, and I started wearing a hat, gloves, and five layers of thermals and fleeces and waterproofs to work every day. The waterproofs functioned as a much-needed windbreak, as our worksite was consistently sliced with cold blustery wind (but thankfully very little rain). We were back at the viewing platform in the bubbling mud, building boardwalks to try to keep people out of the scalding water. Earlier I sent a photo of the framework that we began and the steamy backdrop for our work… Well-meaning tourists often stopped and asked if we were building a) a coffee shop b) a visitor’s center c) toilets and d) a house. They also suggested that we use power tools, because it would be so much easier to cut all those boards with a “real” saw. Cross-cultural communication being what it is, I usually just said we didn’t have an extension cord quite long enough to reach the car park (from which they had just walked) that was probably about a mile away. They seemed satisfied with that answer.
So here I am, back home (at my parents’), doing some really rank laundry and relearning the comforts of modern life. The first thing I noticed when I got out of the car at 1:30 a.m. this morning after the ride back from Detroit was the crickets. I can’t remember if there aren’t crickets in Iceland, or if I just couldn’t hear them because of howling wind, pattering rain, and cursing campers fumbling their way toward the toilets in the middle of the night. Of course the warmth also struck me like a hot breath, as it was still above 70 degrees (that’s 22 deg C, Chas) when we got back. Today it’s raining a bit, but the rain is so vertical and gentle that it almost seems quaint, like the weather is just playing at being bad.
Thanks for sharing my adventure with me, and I hope you found it interesting and entertaining!
Takk fyrir daginn (thanks for the day),
~shannon from Temperance, Michigan, USA, where every day is New Sock Day