Summer is an unpredictable time of year, as are all seasons in Iceland. The unpredictability is a source of resentment for some to whom summer is about hot days spent in outdoors.
But for others, the unpredictability is the very joy of Icelandic summer. The more-benign-than-usual changes in weather and the lack of days so hot only cold water suffices to cool one down, is a good thing.
I belong to the first group; the group that loves hot humid days and is rejuvenated by the sun and reenergized by the sun’s rays. I love everything about the continental European summer, and my love grows with every degree further south. I crave sun like a dry flower craves hydration.
But that doesn’t mean I hate summer in Iceland. I actually like summer, well apart from the never-ending daylight; I absolutely love the perfume of nature bursting in the sunshine.
One of the best things about summer in Iceland is the color green. Everything is greener and better for this very short period. The grass grows so rapidly that it’s hard to keep a trimmed garden without mowing once a week.
The rain helps this rapid growth. Rain is often frequent, though it’s obviously not tropical rain. It’s not as cold as the winter rain and the breeze of a wind is not as cold either.
The wind is never silenced in Iceland, not even by summer, so throughout the season one is constantly aware of its movement.
It’s a rare occasion when the mobile wardrobe does not come in handy. Women often wear leggings and have something with them to put on when the wind picks up on a good day.
Unfortunately for the wind, it is also not as welcome on a proper summer day, as it might be further south in the continent. In fact, it usually is the party pooper. It comes when all is going well and everybody is having a fabulous time and brings nothing but goose bumps.
It’s not the wind’s fault the air is colder in this part of the continent and more sensitive to its cooling effect.
The sunshine is all about seizing the moment. And I don’t mean the day; I am actually talking about the very moment the sun sneaks out from behind the clouds on a warm day.
When this happens, you grab your blanket and maybe some sunscreen too and a book and run out.
Some days allow for hours and hours of sitting in the sun without becoming cold while others merely give you a minute of joy.
So, if you come across an Icelander sitting on a beach during the hottest time of the day in a park in say Barcelona, don’t be too judgmental of the stupidity it may convey to the local accustomed to long hot summers. I confess that when it comes to the sun in far-away countries, I am addicted. The sunlight physically transforms me on the inside and out.
The fatigue of winter fades, the pale skin takes on a healthy glow (protected by sunscreen of recommended strength, of course) and big gulps of fresh air, humid or not, make me happy.
After all, the warm rays of the sun in Iceland are always cooled down by the chilled Atlantic breeze.
And if the sun is out and temperatures above 15°C (59°F), don’t be surprised to see a herd of bare-legged locals bathing in what is probably a mix of cool breeze and hot rays reduced to warm rays.
And yes, not everybody is feeling the heat.
So do yourself a favor, pack a pair of leggings for your next trip to Iceland and join the party for a proper Icelandic cool summer’s day out.
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]