Field Notes from the Single Lady Pilgrimage Trip: Part 4

I believe in slow-burn love. I believe in listening to that stewing, deep, under-the-surface yearning that you can’t always name. I believe that gravity can pull your ear down low to the ground, force you to listen to her heartbeat, telling secrets, speaking poetry. I believe in magical thinking, in asking for what you want, in looking the direction that you want to go.

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Do I have to know what I want in order to get it?

Something I like about traveling alone is that you get very in tune with what you want. The trouble with this is that if you don’t know what you want, things can get a little tricky.

I have recently been believing very deeply in the power of asking for what you want. You won’t always get it, but if you don’t know what you’re asking for, what your heart must be open to, I’m afraid you might miss it.

As I drove the last legs of my Iceland trip, I started to think more concretely about what exactly I needed from this voyage. I was in a mindset that I regretted letting still mark me when I no longer wanted it to. I started to imagine the crusty emotional shell that I had come to let define the edges of myself cracking apart and falling off in bits on the road I left behind me. It was meditative, and I listened to the quiet/loud road noise, driving back towards what I really hoped was my normal, grounded self.

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I spent an evening with three men (from France, Italy, and Colorado) who were all diligently writing by hand in their travel journals, which I secretly loved. I wrote in mine, quietly asking questions, wondering, feeling joyful and tired and just a tiny bit ready to think about going home.

~

Ice Queen.

I came around a bend in the highway one morning to what I thought might have been a wave crashing up against a bridge, and when it didn’t come down, my heart caught in my throat. It was ice. It was breathtaking. Even though I was expecting it, it gave me butterflies. Have you ever fallen in love with part of the earth?

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Jökulsárlón is a lagoon at the foot of a glacier, a tidal pool filled with icebergs that break off and crash into the water, that breathe and creak and heave with the ocean rising and falling underneath them, a live animal corralled by a bridge. Seals slipped in and out amongst the bergs. Everything was blue, luminous and glowing and milky despite the haze and the rain. Icebergs were streaked with centuries-old ash from volcanic eruptions, the water’s surface calm in the rain’s pause. I watched other tourists taking photos, popping bright umbrellas, putting their fingers in the clear glacial water.

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I bought a spot on a zodiac boat and motored out to the edge of the glacier, the air growing sharply cooler the closer we got. We were zipped up in waterproof coveralls, kneeling on the floor of the boat which was rubber like the sole of a shoe. Every now and then there was a sudden underboat jerk and a drag of ice along our kneecaps. The sun had come out and water was dripping off the ledges of vaulted ice, the spray salty, everything glittering and moving imperceptibly.

Jökulsárlón coveralls

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10 Comments to “Field Notes from the Single Lady Pilgrimage Trip: Part 4”

  1. These are some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen. They need to be published.

  2. Have noticed how photogenic the combination of foul-weather gear, incredible amounts of water (ice & snow in this instance) and your lovely countenance are?

    I’m sitting here on the couch in Grandma’s guest bedroom; I can see the truly iconic picture of you from the Pole, your face and goggles rimed with frost; just next to it stands the one taken of you at Niagara Falls (Maid of the Mist?) clad in a translucent blue poncho, wet hair plastered into tangles, and that same gleeful, turned-up cheeks, impish & twinkling-eyed smile.

    I love to go a-wandering,
    Along the mountain track,
    And as I go, I love to sing,
    My knapsack on my back.

    Chorus:
    Val-deri,Val-dera,
    Val-deri,
    Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
    Val-deri,Val-dera.
    My knapsack on my back.

  3. Oh boy – another Kiell post! And yet more powerful musings carried by heartbreakingly beautiful prose, punctuated by gorgeous, gorgeous images. Is there anything we can do to convince you to keep traveling, so that we keep receiving these gifts of yours?

  4. Absolutely amazing photographs of an incredible landscape! And elegant prose to accompany it.

  5. Beautiful post and photos friend!

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