June 2012: Magic & Mystery
Well, here we are in the middle of another month. There are a couple of options twirling around in my mind for what to write about. One might think it would be an obvious choice considering I have recently returned from a 2-week holiday in Iceland.
“Iceland?” you ask. Yes, Iceland. Canada’s Yukon claims to be the place of Magic & Mystery; but I think Iceland could just as well adopt that as their tag line. It is indeed a very magical place with plenty of mystery. And in all fairness, there were parts of Iceland that did remind us of locales in the Yukon and North West Territories.
As for why Iceland, well it is a bit of a convoluted story without really a beginning but rather layers. Iceland has been on our ‘someday’ list since we saw travel programs about the country on TV. Another layer has been that my husband and I talked of taking a ‘real’ trip (vs. a road trip) once our dog passed away. This, of course, was supposed to be a couple years away yet. We talked of a trip to Europe in that offhand way you do when it seems to be a far off dream.
The next layer was attending the Calgary Outdoor Trade Show the weekend after our beloved pet passed away. We stopped at the Tourism Iceland booth more out of curiosity than intent. After chatting with the lovely Icelandic lady (now a resident of Seattle), we inquired into prices (again thinking of our someday list). Turns out there was an affordable seat sale until the end of May (their off season). A bit more research when we got home, and it was decided. This would be our ‘real’ trip to commemorate a life well lived. Gracie would have loved it.
We thought of her often—especially since we essentially did a road trip in Iceland without her. Felt a little strange at times. We didn’t even change our road trip routine that much (other than we were not camping). Although we now had the freedom to check out indoor attractions, we still found ourselves principally sticking with outdoor ones of which there was an unending supply in that beautiful country. Sensory overload. For people who enjoy natural serenity, Iceland is paradise. However, the wind was a bit of a distraction some days.
When I think of my time in Iceland, the words calming and soothing come to mind. There was something truly magical and mysterious about that place. From the volcanic landscape, the folklore of trolls and elves, and charming people, to the natural beauty of craters, waterfalls, sparse but determined vegetation, rocky to sandy shorelines, majestic mountains, and pasture land dotted with sheep, dairy cows, and the quintessential Icelandic horse.
Life is not hurried on that small island. Centuries of a living in a harsh environment must have taught them that. While hard working, they take the time to enjoy what they do and appreciate the end results. And nothing matches their culinary results! The Icelanders know how to prepare food—even though much of it is imported contributing to the expense of it.
Somehow that country has found a way to marry tradition with technology. They keep up-to-date yet honour their rich history. They are proud of how far they have come since the first century—and rightly so. Maybe that is part of the magic and the mystery. Honoring the past while embracing the future. And a clear understanding of how their environment is key to their survival held in tension with the reality that it is also the source of their greatest challenge. Their respect for their homeland is admirable.
Maybe that’s part of why the place was so calming and soothing—not just the landscape and being close to nature—but also being in an unhurried culture that respects where they live and the continuity of life.
As you face another day in your own environment, your own culture, may you find a calming and soothing moment that embraces the essence of life—it’s connectedness and continuity.