Since arriving here in Blönduós, now 17 days ago, I have really been trying to prioritize my time outdoors. Living in cities my whole life, I have always appreciated any stay in a rural area that much more. It is so easy to take for granted the need to slow down our pace of life; to consider our surroundings and appreciate the beauty of the natural landscape. The Icelandic landscape holds its own unique and special kind of beauty, which both confirms and confounds the expectations I had of it before coming here. The rugged, weather worn fields full of hardy sheep and horses are dominated by purple mountains that seem to glow in evening; completing the mental picture I had formed of this windswept Nordic land. On the other hand, I have also found a landscape filled with a softer kind of beauty; of delicate pink flowers that cling to moss covered rocks, the blueish purple lupins that controversially blanket the hills and river banks, and the endless array of birds that circle the grey clouded skies and skim the steel blue waters. While these birds continually seem to elude my camera’s attempts to capture their flight, there is one bird I find myself drawn to again and again.
I saw my first raven during a walk on our first day here, flying right overhead and out over the water towards the Westfjords. I have been told that the raven holds a mixed position in the Icelandic consciousness. While some have come to see these inky black birds as negative omens associated with death or mis-fortune, the ancient Icelanders viewed them as symbols of wisdom and prophecy; believing in their kindness in helping the first settlers of this land to find their way here. I have always found myself to have an affinity with their cousins at home the crow. I now find myself continually sensing their presence on my daily walks, majestic and mysterious beings that glide across the landscape in silent flight. Whatever the wider thoughts towards these creatures (good or bad), I choose to believe they are helping me on this journey of discovery.
Jacob Le Gallais, MA, BFA (Student, Ph.D. Art Education)