Iceland, one more thing

Once one gets over the initial shock of Iceland: that is--the outlandish cost of food ($15 for a bagel sandwich, $3+ for what was essentially a plastic Dixie cup of coffee) and alcohol (difficult to get drunk on $10 bottled beers) and shopping for clothes or "souvenirs" (I resorted to telling myself I was shopping at an outpost of Barney's), then its smooth sailing...

The landscape has a quasi-mythic,
ian quality. An "edge of the earth" sort of mysticism that kept making me think "Stairway to Heaven" should be playing as the soundtrack. (For those of you who do not like Led Zeppelin, don't worry, it was my imaginary soundtrack)

You begin to realize how it is that these Norse countries have elves and sprites and wood nymphs in all their folk lore. Its not just that they have quite the penchant for quaint fairy tales--the landscape really shapes that sensibility. Low clouds, mist, waterfalls cascading seemingly out of nowhere, the serrated mountains. Oh and rainbows too. All that was missing were the Unicorns.

Everything is much bigger, figuratively, than you are.
As opposed to New York, say, where the landscape is absent or accessible in small defined areas: a park, an angled view up to the sky ("is it going to rain?"), a fleeting glimpse of the river on a crosstown street. Without consciously realizing it I've been drawn to outsized landscapes as offering a kind of escape. Thunderstorms always thrilled me for the same reason: they were so much larger than (my) life. They hinted at larger, more universal things. They threw the small day-to-day boundaries of small day-to-day lives into highlight, and went beyond.

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