Reykjavik: Break for the country

Posted on February 15, 2007


by jared bibler

I stayed one Saturday overnight in a little cluster of summerhouses, owned by my employer. It’s a little ways out of town, far enough so that no city lights interfere with the stars. Just now when I went to the car to get a pen, the size and brilliance of Orion in the southern sky was almost shocking. I can’t imagine how a good hit of the norðurljós must look from out here.

It’s cold outside, a few degrees under freezing, and there is crunchy snow on the ground. There are a few dozen little houses clustered here looking down on a frozen lake. Down the hill from me, someone has lit a cooking fire outside and I can hear the excited sounds of little Icelandic kids playing flashlight games in the dark. Rising up to the west is a sky-filling mountain (now just a gloomy shape silhouetted by the lingering twilight) but in the other three directions the sky is clear and wide and endless. The cabins are nestled within a brambly Icelandic forest, scrubby little shrubs that stand shoulder-high in places. Off across the lake, I can see the twinkling lights of another cluster of summerhouses, at the base of a different mountain.

Every time I come out to the Icelandic country I realize I should be doing it a lot more. The peace and quiet out here always make even relatively sleepy Reykjavík feel like New York City. Maybe I’ll get lucky and those northern lights will fire up in a couple of hours, hot-white and brilliant green and spanning the cloudless sky.