Summer has come to an end. Even though summer is still ever so present on the European mainland and the rest of the northern hemisphere, the Icelandic summer comes to an abrupt end in August.
Come Cultural Night and the Reykjavík Marathon, summer is already rapidly on the escape to start the descent to the southern hemisphere. Both events were held this past weekend and the rain poured down on the crowds.
Despite the not-so glamorous weather, about 80,000-100,000 people gathered in the city center to enjoy culture in all forms and shapes. The grandest events are the marathon—including a 3 km, 10 km and 21 km run—which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and the concert in the evening.
The latter event was broadcasted live on RÚV, both on the radio and on telly.
But now that all this is over—the concert, dance performances and family festivities— life has truly returned to normal. All the local daycare centers, elementary schools, high schools and universities assume business as usual.
Pick-up duty to and from sport and music lessons and all the other activities children participate in during the school year are back on, and for conscientious adults, the gym is once more frequented on a regular basis.
Bidding farewell to summer is both a time of melancholy and relief. The melancholy of abandoning a more carefree living in the summer brings forth mixed emotions.
For me, this was my Emma’s first summer as a young dog. Last summer, she was but a little puppy not even three months old, and was still busy discovering the world. In her first year she learned to swim and run through tall grass with the wind in her ears.
I feel an immense gratitude to have been able to spend most of the summer in her company, to have seen her play happily with her best friend Skúli and to have made a new friend, a little puppy named Garpur who is still discovering the world. To him, she is a mentor teaching him the ways of life in the dog world.
I can’t say all our days together felt as blissful at the time as they appear in my memory now that I look back on our summer together.
It rained plenty. Many a day we returned home soaking wet and a little cold. I’d make myself a hot cup of coffee and give Emma a bit of a healthy snack with cottage cheese (she loves cottage cheese).
Some days we got up early, took a walk to the coast and then napped for a couple of hours after we got home. It really was a lovely summer.
Well, for the most part.
Emma being a one-year-old puppy, a bit of the occasional mischief is unavoidable. On one occasion, as I worked on a translation project, she returned home after a walk with dad along the shore. I couldn’t help but detect a horrid odor as I closed the door behind them, both of them a little wet after the light shower.
As I dried her, I saw that her fur was oily and slimy and the nauseating odor filtered the air. It turned out that she had found a pile of rotten fish near the old fishing huts on the coastline Ægisíða (‘Oceanside’) and rolled around in it.
To her, the odor was as delightful as a fresh bouquet of roses. To me, it was nauseating. With dad’s help I pulled her into the shower and spent close to an hour washing her, mopping the bathroom and the shower, and eventually, all the rooms she’d been to. Her blanket and the towels used to dry her were thrown into the washing machine and washed on a full 90°C cycle—twice.
Two months later, I may be laughing as I think back to this unforgettable day, but at the time it took me the best part of a week to eat fish again, let alone cook fish. I dread to think how awful it would have been without the rain...
But I can’t help smiling when I think of our best memories. They include Emma’s first visit to the summer cottage where she enjoyed the freedom of country living, all the times she swam and play-fought with her best friend Skúli in the local dog park (that was recently officiated as one), and all the playtime sessions with her new friend, Garpur, in our garden.
One of the perks of having a dog is the easiness of making new friends and acquaintances. Dogs bring an indescribable joy to life, and indirectly, widen the circle of acquaintances.
But now, with autumn on the horizon, I look forward to new adventures. Nonetheless, playtime sessions with Emma’s friends and regular meet-ups with the community of dog owners in the suburb of Vesturbær continue to be a big part of our daily life.
The evenings are quieter as the streets are emptier now after nightfall. The days are shorter and the never-ending daylight has forsaken us at last, much to my relief. Falling asleep under the whispery musicality of the autumn wind is a soothing reminder of the quiet but sometimes raging beauty that is the Icelandic winter.
Whatever autumn brings, there is anticipation and excitement in the air, a foreboding of days and nights that shall bring a bit of discontentment but hopefully more moments of contentedness.
For now, I can’t wait for autumn to paint the world once more with its array of auburn leaves and all the shades in-between...
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – firstname.lastname@example.org