Thursday, October 26, 2006



"The water has memory, you see, the water has memory."

When a man who has spent his life on the ocean speaks poetically of water, I will give him due consideration. Sitting in a hot pot at the Vesturbæjarlaug Thermal pool, sharing water with a retired trawler captain, a Spaniard, and an elderly woman, the conversation was as warm as we were. It was another unseasonably fine October day in Reykjavík and I was taking a final visit to the neighborhood pool. The conversation swirled like the water in which we soaked; moving between politics, economics, wool, music and water. Always water, this rock in the North Atlantic, surrounded by water and the fish in it which generated wealth, the heat from the geothermal water making living comfortable here, and the electricity generated from the hydroelectric plants making modern life practical. I mentioned Halldór Laxness and his novel Kristnihald undir Jökli, wherein the "fallen" pastor Jón Primus declared his only theory: "...water is doesn't even have to go by my theory unless one is thirsty." Everybody laughed. Water is good, especially when one is in it with congenial company. When I had finally become thoroughly cooked I reluctantly left.

Two days later the weather had turned colder, and it was time for me to return to my home in Minnesota where my "real" life awaited. I showered, smiling at the faint odor of sulfur from the hot water- after only a week I was beginning to take it for granted. I dressed and gathered my bags and headed out. I went down and walked along Tjarnargata, past the pond, where the water had frozen over during the night. A few brave souls waltzed over the thin ice, the birds had congregated down by the northern end where some of the water was still open. Geese flew in formation overhead, and as I walked the paths at the southern end of Tjörnin, I slowly scanned this beautiful city.

Suddenly there was more water, but this time salty. I turned away and headed up the hill to the bus depot. I didn't look back again.

By Professor Batty


Blogger ECS said...

This is my favorite post from the record of your trip, and so appropriate for a day that's streaming with water here. The rafters in my top-floor office are creaking with the strain from the winds and the drops rattle against the window furiously.

Also, I know one of the singers from Baggalútur and I passed on your nice review from a few days ago to him.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Thank you! I wish I could personally express my gratitude to all the musicians who made the festival so memorable and enjoyable. Baggalútur was only one of many pleasant surprises. I will treasure the memory of this trip for the rest of my life.

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