Where the Winter Always Waits

Posted by debra at 11:15 PM on Dec 31, 2015

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Dec. 31, 2015

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Where the Winter Always Waits

I am drawn to cold places, to bleak shorelines and the calls of gulls filtered by the fall of snow. Alone needn’t mean lonely; and for a writer, seclusion can be a powerful gift. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with Iceland within moments of arriving. My first trip there was six years ago, when I was sent to cover Food and Fun, the country’s annual food festival. Celebrity chefs from all the Nordic countries were there, cooking up their best dishes, but one of my favorite meals was breakfast. Every morning, I woke to a fresh pot of hot tea, and golden cloudberry preserves served on top of skyr, the traditional Icelandic dairy version of dense yogurt; so thick my spoon stood upright on its own like a shovel in a bank of snow.

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In the afternoons, there are charming coastal villages to explore and black lava beaches, made up of a multitude of small, smooth black stones at which to marvel. In the company of several chefs attending the festival, I drive south to the country’s vast collection of geothermal-heated greenhouses, each with their own resident bee colony. Wandering through Reykjavik, I discover a small teashop that has since become one of my favorite places to linger in while in the capital. Called Tiu Dropar, and located below street level on the city’s main shopping street, it has a welcoming ambience and the best apple cake in the city.

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Before my most recent journey to Iceland, I immersed myself in Letters from Iceland, written by poet W.H. Auden and playwright Louis MacNeice and published in 1937 following their extended visit there. Have I become obsessed? Quite likely. I long to return, to take in another performance at Frystiklefinn (The Freezer) theater in the village of Rif, to hike the glacier at Snaefellsjokull, and to drive the long and winding road that leads to the Hotel Budir and its wide, watery views.

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Until then, I’ll crank up the album Takk by Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and dream of gluggaveður — window weather days, when Icelanders share this proverb as a simple fact of life: “my steps so quickly fill up with snow.”