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They showed us Iceland

By A. Sherman Christensen / December 7, 1983



The three of them set out to show us Iceland - the beauty, gaiety and strength - the wonder of their Island. They showed us Reykjavik, a white-faced city on the smoky bay. They showed us Thingvellir where justice and law were born at the Althing more than a thousand years ago and ever since have hung there on the rocks and in the air; And Hveragerdi, where orchids bloom under glass, sustained in this brisk land by heat from the seething mystery below; And Katla the devil, which more than once, with its spewing of horrible sand, blacked out the sun from day to day, desolated the farms from year to year; which still is feared far more than the lava of Hekla from night to night; And the farm where my wife's grandparents were born and worked and walked the grassy slopes, from where their faith carried them across the seas but where their spirits return to stride again along the river Holmsa; And Hliderendi, where Gunnar fought and loved, and died at last because his wife refused her hair to make his bow string - or so Njal's Saga testifies; (and who are we to question gospel carved upon the land?) And driving back between white shadows of the ancient snows and the new reality of Surtsey freshly spawned in fire and brimstone from the ocean's depth, we climbed the southern tip of this bright land and saw below the ribbons of surf and sand which laced the ocean to the grasses of Dyrholaey. And we said, ''This is Iceland at its best'' - But it wasn't. The three of them set out to show us Iceland Instead, unconsciously, without guile, they showed us the beauty, the wonder, the strength, the gaiety

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of Iceland

in themselves.