Sunday, April 5, 2009

To the Gateway to Hell and Back

Mount Hekla is the most active volcano in Iceland and was believed to be the gateway to Hell. Old tales tell that the souls of the unfortunate traveled through Hekla's crater on their way to underworld. Towards this mountain we went yesterday. My former Icelandic language teacher invited her students to her summer house. The road there went through Selfoss and further to the east. The weather had been changing every ten minutes - we drove through the sun, we drove through the snow, we drove through the rain, through the sleet and through the sun again. Heads of the mountains had been hidding in the grey clouds and reappearing ever so often - snow scintillating on their tops. Lava fields covered in emerald green moss provided a sharp contrast to the blackness of the stones.

When we reached our destination the sun was shining. Dora's house stood awashed in the golden glow; compact and peaceful. Hekla loomed not far away - clouds hovering on its summit.

First thing I noticed on entering the house was a large bay window in the living room with a great view of the mountains, and then - a wonderful smell of fresh wood. Like any proper summer house it is made entirely of wood and the aroma of timber hasn't disappeared yet. Despite being bran new the house has a feeling of a home where the tastes of its owners shows through every details - flowers on a table, art on the walls, a shelf full of selected books, comfortable kitchen. A wonderful place to retreat from the noise and business of the city. Some day I hope we will have a home, a place filled not with government furniture but ours, in the location selected by us not for us. But for now I am content with snapping photos of places I like, creating a pile of images to use when the time will come.

We spend a pleasant afternoon in this lighthearted household - eating, talking, strolling through the lava fields. The food was delicious - a leg of lamb, sweet potatoes, superb chicken and grapes salad, spicy bean salad and scrumptious cheesecake topped with berries for dessert. Honestly, this lunch was so filling we needed just a snack for dinner.

Our secondary goal on this trip was to find the grave of Bobbie Fisher. I knew that it should be just outside of Selfoss, on the Laugardaelir Church Cemetery, but on the way to the summer house we missed the right turn so figure out we searched for it on the way back. Taking a very muddy off road we did find it, a small not descriptive tomb in front of the church. Such an obscure place for such a great mind. It was his wish to be buried there and it went well with his solitary personality but still...

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