Monday, 22 September 2014

land of fire and ice and geothermal strawberries

by Geysir


What a fascinating country...only settled by humans in the 9th century, leaving disputes further south in Scandinavia and looking for new land to settle, the settlers brought their naimals. In this land fruit trees rarely grow, although now some talented individuals in modern times have found ways to grow apple trees.
(apple trees in Iceland and more apple trees in Iceland),  There are five types of berries in Iceland blueberries, bilberries, stone bramberries, wild strawberries and crowberries.  They can be picked mostly in August.  We had crowberries to eat.

stone bramberries

Icelandic strawberries with skyr, lucuma, vanilla and cream
Some vegetables such as cabbage can also be grown and there are herbs such as thyme.  Nowadays salad vegetables, cucumbers and even strawberries are grown in greenhouses, heated geo-thermally and even, in some cases lit with geo-thermally powered lighting.  Even strawberries are grown in greenhouses.

 In these types of climate, grazing animals are what makes it all possible to get nutrition that would otherwise not be possible through utilising the nutrition in the grasses through their milk.  In Iceland skyr is one of the traditional fermented milk products, it is like a cross between a yogurt and a cream cheese and very delicious.   Traditionally eaten with cream and sugar, I have been eating it with cream, lucuma, and vanilla.

Now a revival in raw milk products seems to be beginning in Iceland.  The pastures are particularly nutritious thanks to the long hours of sunlight in the summer.  I have noticed  the grasses and other green plants are extra luminous here, as if they have stored the solar charge for emission later, they seem to glow even more than in England.  Icelandic wool makes beautiful clothing and handling wool in winter has traditionally been a source of vitamin D3 in northern climes, through the lanolin.  In fact even today some vitamin D3 supplements are derived from lanolin.

between Laugadalur and Reyjavik
My first impression on arriving was the incredible freshness of the air and then the pristine water - spring water coming out of the taps!  The hot tap water smells sulphurous (think boiled eggs!) and is from a different source to the cold water.  The emphasis has been so much more on  fire than ice, with lots of bathing in geothermal pools  This country is not really that cold.  Asking the people who live here, they say it isn't even that cold in winter; they must feel a bit like we do when asked about raw food lifestyle and 'don't you get cold in winter?' ! And of course the Icelanders have got their heating systems sorted out so that a lot of the time I have been boiling.  In winter even some of the pavements in Reyjhavik  are geothermally heated!

Geysir on the Golden Circle

Connection to te Earth and elements is very much through the water and the air rather than through for example fruit trees of course.  It's about getting in the geothermal water, drinking the fresh water and breathing in the air, listening to the wind.  In Laugadalur is the amazing 'swimming pool' where you can swim, soak in hot tubs or even in hot seawater mixed with mineral water.

The Earth is beautiful wherever you go, wherever it is unspoilt.  You can almost hear the Eddas in the wind, the Norse mythology that was documented here.  The Icelandic language is an old Norse, protected by the island situation.  My thinking has been very clear here and as well as enjoying the amazing scenery and geothermal water I have been able to write and think to my heart's desire.  Clarity of purpose in this wild pristine land.  The Icelanders I have asked have told me how much they like to live here.  What is it about being here I have asked...'everything' came the response.  'We use nature' someone explained to me, and they didn't mean use as consume, they were describing an alignment to the power of the Earth which is palpable in the air here.

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