Where Words Make Sense

Every day I rise 15 minutes earlier with the earlier sun. Today that was around 4:30 a.m. It’s not the light, but a different pull. When I draw the curtains, the sun is not even a knife blade yet, prying up the sky’s lid. When the light comes, it comes from all points in the valley at once, not from the sun. It’s not light, exactly, but a vision. Yes, a vision. It just is, without source. In other words, after 3 weeks in Iceland and a week here in the Fljótsdalur, I have become the valley. I am astounded at how little time that took, and at how complete the union.

P1400333Melarett in the Late Afternoon

A rett is a sheepfold, used to sort sheep driven down from the highlands in the fall. Reykjavik empties as farms call their kin home to fulfill their obligations. They gladly come. Each fall, every inch of the country is combed on foot, and it’s not a small country.

Sheep like this…


Now, this kind of place-based identity I know well from my home in the dry valleys east of western North America, but it’s a little different here, because here the words are right. Icelanders speak Old Norse, and continue the culture that birthed it. English is a variation of Old Norse, that travelled through many conquests and much history to arrive on the Pacific shore. It is a global language now, in which words have ‘meanings’ and ‘histories’ and ‘subtexts’ and ‘meta-meanings’, and much more, but here, in this valley that is just here, the words are just here. They are nothing else than the valley, and all the history of philosophy, science, theology and literature that has been built up around words is just talk.


Swans Walking Across the Lagarfljót

I’m charmed.


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