Silence in the Wind (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

The winds have blown with real force for most of the summer. One of the Icelandic words for storm, rok, is an accurate onomatopoeic word for the sound it makes. It captures the essence of this strong sort of wind that has the strength to exhaust cyclists on the go and turn a cloudy summer evening into a dim autumn night.

This word makes sense to anyone who’s stood on the shores of Iceland with the wind blowing fiercely and the waves dancing to its rhythm. It makes sense to anyone who’s returned home soaked and cold to the core of their body.

Thankfully, this summer has compensated with lovely warm days, some made humid from the thick wall of clouds in the sky. But the wind has nonetheless sang its song from dawn till dusk and dusk till dawn.

But more has happened over the course of the summer than strange weather occurrences. In addition to it all, it has been a turbulent time for politicians in power.  

Confidence in the ruling parties has dropped with difficult cases surfacing. One of the government’s ministers, Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, is finding herself in a tough situation, having a hard time explaining how she got there.

The interior minister is in trouble because of a document that was unlawfully released to the media by someone who is believed to be a member of staff in her ministry. The accusation made against her is that she deliberately leaked false information to the media regarding an asylum seeker who was deported shortly thereafter.

Some say Hanna Birna should have taken leave from her position as soon as a police investigation was launched into the affair, as is common practice in many countries. Others see it as a pointless exercise as she is innocent until proven guilty.

In my humble opinion, Hanna Birna should have appointed someone to oversee the investigation and continued to administrate her other duties. You see, as the interior minister, she is the executive supervisor to the chief of police who investigates all claims of illegality.

Ministers and others from the ruling parties have been reluctant to give their opinion, and they certainly have taken their time to make an official statement. Whatever happens, this whole business has stained the minister’s reputation and her party’s integrity for its inability to handle the situation with grace.

But the ground has shaken elsewhere than in ministries. By Öskjuvatn lake in the crater Askja in Northeast Iceland, the grounds literally shook as a massive rockslide came tumbling down, causing tidal waves and transforming the scenery.

There is no sign of a volcanic eruption in Askja but the area will be under close surveillance for the time being. The walking trails in the crater are open again but tourists are asked to be cautious in the area.

The recent rumbling in Herðubreið mountain, which proved to be an avalanche, is yet another example of how active this land of ours is, and how it never ceases to surprise us.

Iceland is indeed a place where nature is a force to be reckoned with and the avalanche and the rockslide are a reminder of its great force.

It’s as clear as the light of day that our politicians are also caught up in the turmoil. Despite their silence and limited appearances in the summer, autumn is around the corner and with yet another parliamentary session.

The turbulent events of the summer need to be addressed. Silence will no longer be endured. Urgent tasks must be discussed in parliament and politicians must take an official stand in the leak affair. If not, nature’s rumbling will become a metaphor for political mismanagement.

With the September 1 deadline approaching and thousands having applied, authorities will soon have a clear picture of how costly the mortgage reduction plan will prove and whether it can be carried out according to schedule.

Another issue that urgently needs to be discussed in parliament is the additional funding necessary to help run Landspítali National University Hospital.

But for now, all this official mess can wait. Summer in all its glory lingers with us and with the delightful weather August has brought, there are many great reasons for enjoying the remaining days and hopefully weeks of this summer.

I for one will take a cue from my four-year-old nephew, whose birthday is today, and dismiss the troubles of this day and age. I’d rather enjoy the splendid weather in this land of ours and play outside in the sun while it shines, as only a child can do.

And yes, I may even find joy in this splendid rok that never seems to calm. If nothing else, it’ll make for a good resistance training.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

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