Spring Comes to Iceland


About one week ago we hit the moment where days are extraordinarily pleasant in Iceland. Where the quality of sunlight has returned and you can make out colours, where you have time before and after work to see the sun.

The last few days I’ve been waking up, drinking coffee, reading my free paper and feeling like I’ve lived a full morning before I had to come to work. (As apposed to my mornings from November through February of blaring rock music in an attempt to wake up enough to drive to work in total darkness.)

The joy of rediscovering sunlight—it seems to affect every sense. You can smell, taste, feel, see and hear better, with so much more clarity. You can think better. In fact, this spring in Iceland has been providing some of the happier days in my existence… with one exception—it appears I have angered the locals.

As my friend pointed out yesterday on our way for ice cream, “You know, you made fun of the largest company in Iceland, and you did it with a full-colour photo of you over the essay.”

Eating our ice cream, I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder.

Yes, life has changed since I wrote what I felt was a slap on the wrist to Fréttabladid for featuring such lame journalism as to discuss their owner’s “price war.” The number of instant messages and phone calls I’ve gotten has been remarkable... and sometimes a little frightening. I’m not listed, so anybody who contacts me is a friend or a friend of a friend, but they all say things like “I can’t believe you took on Fréttabladid.” Or “I’m glad you weren’t afraid of the consequences” or, my personal favourite, “Great changes in society are made only by people with nothing to lose.”

It’s enough to make me consider a public apology to Fréttabladid. While friends and colleagues and anglophiles have been defending me tooth and nail, I can’t help but wonder if Fréttabladid was right: maybe local interests lie more in the price of chicken down the street than the price of freedom in Lebanon. I wasn’t here November 9th 1989, but perhaps on the day the Berlin Wall fell local news was focused on Björk’s hairdresser or something.

As for abysmal local coverage of things like teacher strikes, elections, and signing on to invade other countries, again, who am I to complain? Aren’t Icelandic social problems really someone else’s business? That’s the attitude Frettabladid takes.

The weather is beautiful and getting warmer by three degrees per year. The people here are beautiful and well fed. After my battle with pneumonia, I’m healthy enough to head out to the pool after work. I make enough money so that I can fill my car with gas every second week. In one week, I’ll be hiking again—probably a good twelve-hour stroll across the volcanic desert on the Reykjanes peninsula. Life is good.

If I can learn to not criticize other writers, especially major newspapers, I can have a very easy summer.

So I really shouldn’t point out that Fréttabladid ran a picture of a fisherman and a rare seal on the front page yesterday but then failed to mention that the seal was more than likely dead from being caught in the fisherman’s nets.

Instead they had his name, age and a quote “The sea has always been my passion.”

I won’t criticize them for that. That would just be stupid. BC [email protected]

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