There has been a lot of it lately. White, wind, cold. Storm alert. More white. More wind. Again, storm. The land’s beauty emphasized by a white blanket or hidden by mist. You name it.
Of course, not much of this is very surprising. Geographically speaking. A sort of expected uncertainty. Always changing and still so breathtakingly beautiful. But don’t let her fool you, for beauty can be deceiving. Iceland gets regularly reminded. Like sadly a few weeks ago in Flateyri. But it is also in these events that you can really see the closeness and strength of the community.
It has always fascinated me in how people’s upbringing results in certain character traits. Or how the environment shapes society at large. Iceland has for sure done something to the Icelandic people.
Because how does one learn how to deal with living in an environment so extreme, so variable, and lovingly call it home? It takes a certain type of adaptation, resulting in positive mindedness, opportunism, bluntness, honesty, and to be fair, a bit of chaoticity from the eyes of a foreigner.
But the people know their land and its weather. They know how to deal, when not to deal with it and they were born with a gut feeling they’re sure they can trust. This common sense is so ingrained that it can be hard for your everyday Icelander to level up with people coming from less extreme places (so almost everywhere).
This clashes with the other end of the spectrum. Some tourists coming to Iceland and treating it as a sort of Disneyland. Blowing in the wind from one place to another and complaining over the lack of public toilets. Recently I saw a comment of a future tourist who was anxious about his trip being a disaster because it had dawn to him that there could possibly be snow in March. Everything would surely be closed, and tour buses would be cancelled? It created a whole lot of hilarity. But I come from a country that completely shuts down when the air only smells like snow, so I could very well understand where this worry was coming from.
Alas, not only hilarity comes from these perspective extremities.
I sometimes see anger as well. Anger towards an unknowing tourist who brought danger upon himself, purely by misinterpreting and miscalculating the weather and landscape. Iceland is no Disneyland. Summer or winter, there will always be that one peculiar tourist in sneakers, almost drowning at Reynisfjara black beach, taken by surprise by a big wave.
However quick and drastic the weather changes, an Icelander will never be surprised. Robust people, but with a warm heart buried inside. Forced to, but always ready, to deal with whatever Iceland throws at them while never losing love for their beautiful land. So as long as the white lasts, hold that warmth close. At least the light is back now!
Text: Ellen Wild