Sunday, October 5, 2008

Treasure Hunt

Yesterday was such a glorious day – warmed by the sun, crystal clear, and sparkling. One of those days that promises only wonderful things. The streets were filled with people and the air vibrated with joy. The birds held some important conference up on the trees, trading gossips and devising plans for gathering the rest of the berries, the kids laughed playing with the first snow, and I had two hours to spend – no goals, no errands to run, just waiting for my kids.

I strolled to Óðinsgata first – this street has a lot of unusual houses, which are interesting in their details: the carving on the roofs, odd shaped windows, shocking interior colours. Óðinsgata 18 has the most beautiful side yard (there are backyards and front yard, why not a sideyard, if it describes the location of the yard the best?) It reminds me of warmer countries and I never can pass it without slowing down. I heard that this yard was pictured in one of the magazines, but so far none of my Icelandic acquaintances can satisfy my curiosity about this place.

I stopped at Eymundsson for a cup of coffee and cannot resist the temptation to browse through some books.
History of Beauty edited by Umberto Eco caught my attention. It explores an ever-changing concept of beauty in western culture from antiquity to modern times. The selection of illustration is amazing. While sitting and leafing through the pages, I kept being distracted by lively conversations going on between customers and one of the clerks. Often employees in the stores are just serving their time and their demeanor doesn’t invite to ask question. This young man was clearly enjoying his work, helping customers with eagerness and enthusiasm. I watched him helping a young gentleman to choose some sci-fi fiction, an older woman – some altering life style books, a young lady – some novels – each person had his full attention and left the store with several books. I had to mention to him how impressive his people’s skills were.

My last treasure was found near the National Gallery. By now most of the berries are gone from the trees and bushes, fallen prey to the hungry birds or first frost, so I was surprised to see a tree sprinkled with bright orange berries. On closer inspection it appeared to be a Siberian pineapple or Sea-buckthorn. As its name suggests it likes colder climate and in fact, only by now it is fit for eating. Of course, it isn’t pleasant to try it raw, it is too sour, but strained with sugar or as a jam it is delicious. Sea- buckthorn is one of those magical plants, packed with vitamins and antioxidants that can be used in various ways. Its juice is said to cure colds, its oil is used for healing burns, frost bites, and eczema; its leaves suppose to help with diarrhea and ulcers. Considering its medicinal qualities and love of cold weather it is odd that I haven’t seen more of this plant around.

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