In the heart of winter

Wednesday, March 4th
Snow storm

I have now passed my first snow storm in the North of Iceland. Gales battered the village all night and day and created snow dunes all around. First thing I did in the morning was dug out my window and clear the pathway.  Lucy and Lukas my two flat-mates and myself could eventually get out of the house today to meet the other artists at the studio.  I would never have thought that walking the 300 meters that separate the studio from the house could be such a feat! Now that the wind calmed down, it remains pretty cold: -8° says the weather forecast. 

Did you say knitting?

Wednesday nights are knitting nights in Skagastrond. Women meet at the coffee house (closed to clients in winter time) to knit and chat and drink coffee. That's how my first encounter with local people started around learning knitting the Icelandic way although knitting the famous yoke sweater might be a challenge for me.

Iceland has a long knitting tradition: it is a country of hardy long-haired sheep, whose wool is both soft and sturdy. Knitted and woven wollens have always been a necessity in the northern climate and knitting is still an important part of Iceland culture. Children as young as seven are taught the rudiments as part of their regular school curriculum. 

Friday, 6th March

Skagastrond claims the only country-music bar in Iceland and it is the hot spot in town on Friday night (the only night it opens in winter). That's where the young crowd gathers after a good few drinks at home. Locals did not show up until 1 am but with all the energy ready to party. 
Kantrybaer was founded by Hallbjön Hjartason nicknamed the 'Icelandic Cowboy'. He fell in love with country music when working on the American base in Keflavik in 60's. Even after moving back to the remote fishing community at Skagastrond, he kept his passion alive and founded Kantrybaer, released records and organised country music festivals. 

A few things I have learned

Girls add the suffix dòttir (daughter) to their family names and boys add son. Sigurðardóttir is the daughter of Sigurðar and Sigurðarson the son of Sigurðar. 

Reykjavik means Smoky Bay. Arnasson, credited for the first intentional settlement, called the place after the steam from thermal springs there.

17 June 1944 - the Republic of Iceland is formally established. Now celebrated as Independence day

A few pictures taken around Skagastrond - March 7th 2009

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