The dark season is here. The autumn equinox, when day and night are equally long, was one month ago and now the darkness is creeping further and further into the mornings. Nightfall comes earlier every evening and soon, we’ll only be graced with daylight for a few hours each day.
But waking up on Tuesday, the morning was unusually bright. I discovered that the ground was covered in snow and my initial reaction was delight. I then realized that I better leave the bike at home and walk to work, which would take longer and delay my usual schedule.
Yet as the snow creaked under my feet, I breathed in the fresh frosty winter air and admired the transformed cityscape, my annoyance disappeared. Every naked tree branch had a lining of glittering silver and the snowflakes sparkled in the pristine white blanket of snow.
I was up early and took joy in my footsteps marking the first dark line in the virgin ground, like the first Arctic explorer crossing unknown territory or an author writing the first words of a new novel on a blank piece of paper. New season, new beginnings, new opportunities.
While people were stuck in traffic, irritated out of their wits, Iceland Review editor and photographer Páll Stefánsson also opted for walking to work. With his camera he captured the beauty of the first real snow in Reykjavík this winter, shedding new light on everyday things and familiar surroundings.
The following day, the snow was gone and the spell was broken.
Last Saturday I witnessed magic in a different context. In Reykjavík’s Laugardalshöll arena, young gymnasts from all around Europe competed at the TeamGym 2014.
The arena was packed for the women’s final, Icelanders eagerly supporting their national team, which after two years of careful preparations and constant practice were there to defend their double European championship title.
I’m no expert in the sport, so for a better account of the competition, let me refer you to Júlíana’s column. And pictures say more than any words. Photographer Geir Ólafsson captured some of the championship’s best moments, as can be seen here.
The excitement was tangible and the skill of the athletes was mind-blowing. It was obvious that Iceland and Sweden were the best teams and that Iceland’s performance would have to be seamless in order for them to beat their Nordic neighbor.
They came so close… closing with a seemingly perfectly coordinated routine on the floor, Iceland was less than a point behind Sweden in the final score. But it wasn’t enough and Sweden took the gold. The reigning champions had to make do with the silver.
Of course they were disappointed. After all that practice and excitement, to perform so well and come so close to victory, who wouldn’t shed a tear? But the Icelandic team accepted the silver with grace. They still did their best and should be proud of their achievement.
After the Icelandic national team in men’s handball won the silver at the 2008 Olympics, we have a new saying in the Icelandic language: ‘gott silfur er gulli betra’ (‘a good silver is better than gold’) and therein lies the silver lining.
Winter is coming. Tomorrow is the official first day of winter, according to the Icelandic calendar. The days will continue growing darker and in two months’ time, Christmas will be upon us, at which point daylight will gradually start returning to our sub-Arctic isle.
Until then, we will heighten our spirits with blinking lights, glowing candles and glittering ornaments, and, weather permitting, nature will contribute with bright snow, sparkling stars and illumine northern lights.
There’s always light in the dark. We must enjoy winter’s magic while we can because soon enough the spell will be broken.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – eyglo(at)icelandreview.com