As I never get tired of mentioning, the weather has not been great in Reykjavík this summer. And the constant rain has resulted in a rather poor berry harvest in the southwestern corner of Iceland.
In the north and east, however, where it has been unusually warm and sunny this summer, people crowd the berry lands to make the most of nature’s juicy treat.
I always find late summer a bit melancholic as the days keep getting shorter again and the temperatures drop much faster than in our neighboring countries.
But picking berries is a guaranteed pick-me-up and last Monday I was in for a real treat.
I traveled to Húsavík for a concert on Sunday evening and the editor and I spent the night in the countryside in Northeast Iceland.
Typically, it was raining the day we arrived—every time I’ve tried to catch some of North Iceland’s summer glory the weather has taken a turn for the worse.
However, the sun was shining brightly the next day and we decided to make good use of the time we had left before our departure.
After breakfast, our host led me up a steep hill in a dense birch forest. With a container and berry picker in hand, I scouted the heather we were wading through for blueberries but only spotted a few.
Our host assured me that the climb would be worth it and that we would be quick to fill our containers at the top of the hill.
He was right. In between the trees the heather was more blue than green. I dropped to my knees and started picking frantically. My time was limited and I made it my mission to fill the two two-liter containers I had brought.
Minutes before they landed in my container. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
I’ve always picked blueberries with my hands before so using the berry picker was a thrilling experience.
As the heather all around me was packed with berries, I hardly had to change locations before filling the berry picker, which again filled half a container.
In one and a half hours my mission was completed: both containers were full. I was content to board the aircraft and head back to the rainy south with my bounty, yet a little reluctant to leave the abundant berry land.
Back home I could hardly wait to mix some natural skyr with milk and sugar and feast on the sweet and juicy blueberries.
I will freeze or jam the rest but there’s nothing like enjoying the fresh fruits of one’s labor this way. And it’s healthy too!
On the way to the airport the editor and I heard the news that dismal weather is forecast for North Iceland this weekend with snowfall in the mountains.
My first thought was of all the delicious berries that had yet to be picked and would be ruined by the frost and snow.
Our hosts must have thought the same thing because the following day they picked 50 liters of blueberries! They must have been at it the whole day.
Although I should be satisfied with my four liters, I keep hoping that the early winter weather won’t ruin the berry harvest in North Iceland completely so that I can pick more during my next visit to the region in the first weekend of September.
I guess there’s not much one can do about nature’s whims and it’s best to make the most of the good weather and plentiful heather whenever possible.
With that in mind, I will have some more blueberries to lighten my spirit when the bad weather hits this weekend.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – firstname.lastname@example.org