Living My Grandfather's Dream


We got the most bittersweet email yesterday from a reader who often sends encouraging comments. The reader had looked over a large picture spread on the Snaefellsnes peninsula featured in the current magazine and told us it reminded him of his last trip with his wife before she passed away.

It was a charming and dignified note, followed by a side comment that he would purchase me wine for making him laugh, a statement that qualifies him for beatitude in my book.

This evening, though, I couldn't get Donald's email out of my head.

In just over two weeks, I will be returning to the US to visit the grandmother who put me through graduate school. The woman who discussed Nordic mythology with me for five straight hours when I was eight. And, of course, my only consistent fan. (Though to keep her that way I may not show her my novel.)

Donald's email reminded me of how badly I wished that she and my late grandfather could have joined me in Iceland, at least for one tour. Yes, we talk often about the bands and the nightlife, but the serene quality of the nature, the miles of untouched wilderness do inspire the deep quality of thought that some people find in places of worship. It seems to me that these places are particularly suited for old friends or people of different generations who don't need the strain of conversation.

My grandfather particularly comes to mind because of his fascination with geology. In fact, on a trip to Myvatn, as I wandered along a moonscape lava field, I couldn't help but think of the hours of Hawaii slide shows I endured as a child. The joy my grandfather expressed each time we saw him again, white haired, standing in front of a hole that, presumably, had lava underneath. In Myvatn, I was ashamed when I walked past photo shoots after only stand in one spot for say five minutes.

Another one of my errands when I go home will be to stop in my old haunt, New York City, and visit my snooty journalist friends there. I love the City, but as someone who grew up the Midwest, or, as New Yorkers refer to it, between New Jersey and LA, I hold a slight grudge.

There is an obvious bias there. Alex Ross, the founder of the New Yorker, said about his magazine that it was not meant for old ladies in Iowa.

The Iceland Review is for a lot of people, even if my fantastically hip jargon and demeanor throw some of the square cats for a loop. But, at least this week when Ed isn't here to make fun of me, the readers I most cherish are people like my grandma, an old lady in Iowa, who can not visit but who is able to have some of the Icelandic experience through the magazine. BC [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.