These are such lazy days here in Iceland – almost lazy enough to make us forget everything that happened last fall and winter and just believe that Iceland is still Niceland. The weather has been awesome – warm and sunny with a relative absence of wind. The pools are full of people [Iceland has an inordinately high number of outdoor swimming pools – going to the pool is our favourite recreational activity] and most days it’s hard to find a free sun bench. Up here enjoying the sun revolves around taking shelter from the wind [finding “skjól” as the Icelanders say] and when we manage that, the sun can get just as hot as in any tropical resort.
Almost everyone is on holiday and those who aren’t are mostly just kicking back at work and doing the bare minimum. July is the month that everything shuts down in Iceland – school is out [obviously], most playschools close for four or five weeks and day care providers go on holiday, so families with small kids are pretty much forced to take holidays. [Standard holidays for full-time workers in Iceland is 4-6 weeks per year, much like the rest of Europe.] Whole offices close for the month and generally nothing gets done – even getting an appointment with a doctor [a specialist at least] can be very difficult.
In my line of work things have traditionally slowed down substantially in July. That’s been the case now too and although I could be working more I find it really super hard when the weather is so marvellous and everyone just seems to be out doing stuff. So like most people I’ve been doing the bare minimum, using the traditional Icelandic slacker excuse: “There are so few nice days here each year that we just have make the most of them”. [You wouldn’t believe how many people say those very words!] Only – what with climate change and everything, it’s not just a few days any more … it’s been like this day after day for the last two or three weeks.
Speaking of climate change! A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by an organization called European Journalism Centre that wanted to alert me to a blogging competition they’re running, called TH!NK. It sounded really interesting but it conflicted slightly with my trip to Italy to guest at the Internazionale Festival in Ferrera at the beginning of October, so I sort of mentally dismissed it. Yet my thoughts kept returning to it because I thought it was a brilliant initiative. Basically it consists of this: 81 bloggers from around Europe are selected to take part in the competition, which revolves around a specific theme, which this time around is Climate Change. We’re invited to a launch event [all expenses paid] in Copenhagen in September. There we meet the other bloggers, attend seminars and workshops about climate change, and are equipped with a Flip HD device [I guess it’s like a small camcorder] before being sent back to our respective countries to blog about how climate change is manifesting in our own backyards. Anyway, I got notified this morning that I’m one of the 81 bloggers selected and I’m really excited to be taking part. Apart from the challenge of writing about climate change and how it’s manifesting in Iceland [and hopefully testing out some new forms of media] I just think it’s a fantastic effort on behalf of the ECJ – to explore the medium of blogging and how it differs from and/or complements traditional forms of media. Totally cutting-edge and totally cool.
Today I’ve also been exchanging emails with my Italian hosts – the people who are organizing the festival in Ferrera – and I have to say I’m really excited about that trip, too. I’m hoping to stay on a couple of days after the festival and return to Venice for a bit more exploration. As some of you may remember EPI and I took a day trip there last fall when we were on holiday in Croatia – I meant to post about it a day after I posted the pictures to Flickr, but we had the small diversion of the Glitnir collapse taking place that day, and – well, the rest is history. At any rate, the Italian hosts of the festival have been absolutely WONDERFUL – so kind and delightful. For the first time in my life I’m getting the star treatment and I must say it’s something I could easily get used to [but likely won’t experience too many times after this, alas!].
At any rate, life is good, meltdown and politics and corruption and all the other madness notwithstanding. The things that matter haven’t changed – we still have enough food on the table, everyone is healthy and well, we’re enjoying our days … what more can you ask for? Right now it’s 12°C [54F], sunrise was at 3:58 am and sunset at 11.07.