As I mentioned in a previous post, berries – especially blueberries and crowberries – grow wild in Niceland and reach their ultimate ripeness in late August to early September. That’s when Nicelanders head out to the fields with their buckets and Tupperware containers to scoop up these oh-so yummy yields of the earth. I think just about every Icelander has fond memories of being in a berjamó [literally: berry field] as a child with packed sandwiches and hot chocolate in a thermos. There’s even a little child’s verse about going to a berjamó that’s about as common here as Mary Had a Little Lamb …
vísaðu mér á berjamó.
Fyrir bláa berjaþúfu
skal ég gefa þér gull í skó,
húfu græna, skarlatsskikkju,
skúf úr silki og dillidó.
Which loosely translated reads:
Show me the way to a berjamó.
For a blue berry tussock
I will give you gold in your shoe
A green cap, a scarlet cape,
A tassel of silk, and dillidó.**
One of the best places to pick berries in the vicinity of the capital is in and around Þingvellir national park, and that’s where we headed yesterday. I don’t know if the recession is to blame, or if it was just because yesterday was the first rain-free, semi-sunny day in a long time, but just before we got to the entrance to the park we saw loads of cars parked near the road and dozens of people out in the fields with their backs bent, looking alarmingly like Chinese peasants. A lot more than usual, it seemed to me.
We didn’t join them, however, but carried on our merry way, convinced that the berries inside the actual park would be bigger, better and more beautiful than those outside it. However, as soon as we drove through the gates it started to rain. And not just rain – pour.
Undaunted, we still carried on, certain that the shower was just near the entrance and we’d remain blissfully dry in our berjamó inside the park . Because, you know, it’s a sacred place and everything, plus it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List and they wouldn’t put any place on that list that would allow rain when people went there to pick berries.
BEEP! Wrong. About two minutes after we stepped out of the car, it started to drop. I managed to take one photo of peningjagjá, or “money fissure” – thus dubbed because people throw coins in there – before it started to rain …
Not to be undone, we bravely carried on with our mission …
And in between the sun even came out, illuminating the crystal clear waters of the fissures that run all throughout the park…
For those of you who don’t know, Þingvellir is the site of our old Parliament, or general assembly, which first convened around 930 AD. It’s also where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet and are pushing apart at a rate of a couple of centimeters a year. Hence all the fissures.
Anyway, there were blueberries in delicious abundance, so much that we could virtually scoop them up and into our containers, which we filled in no time. We headed back home about an hour after we’d arrived … rather bedraggled from the rain, but otherwise mighty pleased with our pickins’.
Meanwhile, the evening was devoted to making jelly out of our red currants. Behold:
It is BEYOND good. I had it on a piece of toast this afternoon and just about swooned into delirium. Sadly, however, the black currants had been unable to survive the wait for our devoted attention and had gone all mouldy. Sniff. The gooseberries have also had to wait their turn … hopefully they’ll still be OK; they seem pretty robust.
IT HAS BEEN SUCH A FABULOUS DAY
The late-summer sun has been out all day with just a haze of clouds in the sky. One of those benign and lovely days that comes like a bonus just when it seemed that summer had bid a final farewell. The forecast for the week is similar, which is delightful.
* Yes, there are spiders too, in copious numbers.
** As far as I can ascertain, this doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just, like, a filler. Or a rhymer. And no, it doesn’t mean dildo.