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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Up the Creek

Up the Creek

Traveling along Iceland's Eastern fjords is a mystifying experience. All that warm moisture in the air brought straight from the Caribbean by the Gulf stream condenses when it hits the stark and cold peaks and enshrouds them in a robe of opulent clouds. As you drive along the coastal road, you can never really see what's going on in the high mountains towering above you. All you see is a white cotton candy canopy stretching as far ahead as the eye can see. No wonder that significant fraction of Icelanders believe in elves and fairies. Cover always stimulates imagination.

When we reached Faskrudsfjordur and the cloud cover didn't let up, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see for myself. We left the car at a small rest area by the fjord and I climbed straight up into those smooth treeless Icelandic mountains. There wasn't any trail there so I just followed a tiny creek that was cutting its way across hardy tundra vegetation. I was quickly gaining elevation and soon disappeared in the low lying fog like a strayed sheep, treading as lightly as possible on the sturdy carpet of arctic moorlands cushioned with mossy upholstery and embroidered with vast networks of dwarfish berries. I was pretty sure no human being ever set foot there before. Probably no other mammal either. The nearest farm was too far. It felt as if every stalk of grass, every green leaf looked up at me wondering what strange creature was plodding across this desolate terrain.

But it was a worthy experience. Surreal, too.

I entered the Kingdom of Crackling Silence. Or maybe it was just my own blood rushing through the inner ear. A seductive whisper of instant solitude whose caustic concentration dissolved the lingering concept of humanity into an abstract notion that hung around me like Aurora Borealis. Here, high above the cold waters of the fjord one could easily abandon whatever form of existence one had in the civilized world. Just leave it in the locker, like a towel in the spa for subconsciousness.

Each step was a step on the moon. Bestirred only with echos of quietude.

This must have been the kind of place which Beethoven's spirit roamed when he was composing his late String Quartets. An abstract plane of the mind void of any connection to the space and time that we normally occupy. The lucid mountain air that forever greets those brave souls that have withstood the onslaught of the first 122 measures of Grosse Fuge. A fairy dance of sixteen strings.

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