Where Have All The Birds Gone?

I miss seeing birds. I thought I would see all kinds of birds, but it seems to be the wrong season. No sparrows on the sidewalks, no black silhouettes in the trees, almost no birds anywhere. I saw one in the city the other day, and a couple while out along the seashore and lava fields. But other than that, my friendly creatures have left me quite well alone. I miss the black wings, red wings, yellow winds, blue wings, miss the eyes of the sparrows that seem to hold the world in them… I never knew how much I was used to being accompanied by birds until I longed for them here

Nevertheless, what Iceland lacks in birds towards the end of October, it makes up for in a large, beautiful, lovely blue natural hot springs, called the Blue Lagoon. No birds, but the water was warm and steaming, relaxing and kind, with a mysterious, windy fog moving across the waters, white smooth rock to lean your arms or back, thick mud for smoothing your skin, and Icelandic landscape in the background. This hotsprings was one of the most relaxing swims I’ve had in a long while (though for all you sweet babies back home, don’t think I wasn’t missing you and wishing we were doing a Water Babies group together in the Blue Lagoon!) The air at the lagoon was icy cold, the wind was sharp and persistent, and the steamy fog rising and moving across the blue surface made it hard to see very far in front of me. As long as I was under the water, I was warm, but step out for even a minute and it felt a lot like winter! At one point it began raining–a lovely, steady, calm rain–and I wanted to hold onto that moment forever. There’s something about being outside in the water in nature, while the sky gently rains over me, that brings me fully into the present moment, and makes me love this world more than anything.

The day after visiting the Blue Lagoon, I took a twelve-hour bus nature tour around the western Snaefellsnes peninsula of Iceland. We covered about 500 miles, stopping sometimes for 1 hour, sometimes for 5 minutes, and seeing everything from lava fields, to little villages on the seashore, to sheep and farms and a handful of Icelandic horses (poems coming), to beautiful rock shapes and the broken pieces of rusted iron from an old shipwreck laying scattered over a black-sand and stone beach. That was the first day I was really aware of a cold biting wind, so cold it was hard for my hands to work my camera. Our tour guide said it wasn’t much compared to the winters out there. He said he used to ride a motorbike to school and back in much worse cold and wind, wearing no gloves or hat, and that fisherman going out on the waters in winter experienced the worst, dampest, windiest cold. He said when you live in Iceland you get used to it, you don’t notice it the same way–maybe so, but living through the winters and fishing in freezing cold along the Atlantic sounds unbearable to me.

The weather changes constantly here. Sometimes chilly and sharp, other times mild and gentle. Along lava fields, the wind is strong because there are no trees, houses, structures, or vegetation. Everything for miles is a low layer of rough black lava rock covered in green peat moss. One might say it’s barren, depressing, lonely. But the lava rock covered in fresh green moss astounds me over and over again–a continuous reminder that new birth and growth is happening over every dark patch of lava. Years and years of the earth recovering from volcanoes, and finding it’s own way to grow into beauty again. Said best by poet Henry Vaughan, “here in dust and dirt, oh here! The lilies of his love appear.”

More pictures from Snaefellsnes peninsula …


Lava fields–black rock covered in moss and grass.
Amazing ocean.
Gorgeous and moody sky.
Country church I adored.
Icelandic “prairie” fields.
Pretty red gate.
Shipwreck from years ago, and they decided to leave the metal scraps in peace.
Icelandic “Swiss” mountains.


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Some stories from home, some from travel adventures (usually in autumn), some happening in community, friendship and faith, and some about the vulnerable, lonely and excluded. To honour them because they have changed me for the better and taught me how to love more fully and be loved more fully. Some days are great, some good, some not always good. But overall, it's been a beautiful journey so far, and I feel more like myself every day. -- Debra, writer / photographer / blogger / traveller

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