Happy National Day, Iceland!

One of my homes in this world is Iceland, and today they celebrate their independence movement. 17 June is the birthday of the founder of the Icelandic independence movement,  Jón Sigurðsson. I’ve actually been to the monument to his birthplace in the West Fjords.

In honour of this special day, here are some of my favourite shots of Iceland. Please turn on the music above.

 

The Adventures of Raisins, the Icelandic Sheep in Korea

We helped to hand-raise a sheep in Iceland this summer called Raisins. She is a runty sheep, with a funky face and an easily-upset tummy that made us fairly convinced she wouldn’t survive. Despite a run-in with some dumb French Scouts who gave her an unwanted haircut, she made it through the summer and should still be munching grass near camp even as we speak.

Russ found Raisins’ doppleganger in the airport when we were leaving on 27 August. We’ve decided to have a series of posts with Raisins going on adventures in Korea. Tonight, our trip to Haeundae Beach.

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Here’s the real Raisins for reference:

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She’s the small, runty one. 

21st Century Saga: Cheerios the Valiant

Russell and Coleen arrived at Úlfljótsvatn. They settled in, and began the work that they had arrived to do. Many new skills and ways of being arrived in this time for them. They learned how to prepare breakfast for 45 people. They found out how to run a small shop with treats from thousands of miles away. They learned to mix magical potions in spray form and vanquish bacteria with them. At one point, they even met a Zombie and two talking sheep, who revealed to them their opinions on the great moving Grass-slayers that passed over the campground every week.

Russell and Coleen also met two epic heroes in animal form: Cheerios and Ofsavondur.

Cheerios was an orphan who led a small clan of other orphans. She worked hard by baa-ing night and day to get the milk necessary for them to grow. Raisins, who was also an orphan, was her favourite friend in the group. Even though she sometimes butted heads with him over bottles of milk. Who hasn’t gotten into a scrap with a friend after a few drinks?

Cheerios was protective of Raisins because she could see Raisins was sickly. Raisins had a crooked face and teeth that didn’t seem to stay inside her mouth. Her horns would not grow. She walked with a strange gait. She couldn’t eat much.

Cheerios was growing strong and healthy. She drank liters and liters of milk, and began to eat grass as well. One day, Brown Sugar arrived. Brown Sugar was an older lamb, and given to risky behaviors like a teenager. She led the little sheep to eat all the pretty flowers planted at the village. Cheerios wasn’t too sure about this. She had heard of a Flower Troll who would not be happy about them eating the flowers.

“Whatever,” said Brown Sugar. “There’s no such thing as a Flower Troll.”

“Baaaa?” said Raisins, with a pansy in her mouth.

Cheerios did not eat the flowers. She couldn’t convince the others not to, though. Soon, no more flowers were visible in the planters.

A couple of weeks passed, and nothing had happened. Maybe there were no Flower Trolls after all. But Raisins still seemed the same size as before, her horns twisted and not growing. She still walked with a limp and her teeth still wouldn’t fit in her mouth. Cheerios ate at all meal times hungrily, but Raisins wouldn’t eat enough.

The long summer day began to have slight darkness in the middle of the night. Cheerios and the other sheep began to get cold, but they were all too big to fit inside their church anymore. They wandered the grass and were cold together. Several nights passed. Eventually a friendly old cat called Ofsavondur showed them how to sleep under a ventilation fan in the kitchen, so that their wool blew in the warm breeze as if they were under a hair dryer.

Cheerios, Raisins, and Brown Sugar slept peacefully.

Early in the morning, Cheerios needed to pee. She was a polite sheep and did not want to pee on her comrades, so she got up to wander off for privacy. Her natural business finished, she looked around at the morning. No one was awake yet. Raisins had stolen the warmest spot under the fan. She turned to go back, but then…

A trail of flowers was leading to behind the workshop. Cheerios was suspicious. She followed the trail, glancing back one more time at her small herd.

A Flower Troll was, of course, at the end of the trail of flowers. He was ten feet tall, made of pansies in all colors. He had hands bigger than Cheerios whole body, and he walked with his knuckles on the ground like a great ape. He beckoned Cheerios.

She hesitated. Then, she remembered her secret heritage. She knew this was her destiny.

The Troll was angry about the sheep eating his children, the flowers. He threatened Cheerios, saying, “I know that your herd is responsible for the massacre!”

Cheerios said nothing.

“I will punish you all for this, but especially Raisins!”

Cheerios said nothing.

“Raisins will never be right! If she survives this day, she will twist more and more until she cannot even move, and her horns will twist and cause her pain, and she will never grow bigger than she is now!”

Cheerios said nothing. The troll lost his patience and said, “All right! It’s time! First you, and then I will eat Brown Sugar and curse Raisins!” He took a long step and another, until he was ready to step directly on Cheerios. His foot came down on her.

The Troll suddenly looked surprised, and as soon as his foot crushed Cheerios he turned into a fledgling bird. He could not fly away. He could not curse anyone. He hopped along the ground, but it was too late. The legendary camp cat, Ofsavondur, came and plucked up this easy pickings for breakfast, dragging the bird that had been the Flower Troll up to the kitchen. His useless wings were all that was left.

Cheerios knew she was dying.

She stumbled to the workshack, and laid down. The other sheep would never know what had happened to her. Hours later, and close to death, she saw that the people of the camp were coming. They were concerned, but she beckoned them closer. In her last moments, she was able to tell them her story.

“I was born to a clan of magical sacrificial Lambs, high in the mountains. Our history is long and we have always sacrificed ourselves to save others. Don’t be sad today! I will die, but Raisins will be better. The curse the Flower Troll put on her will be reversed through my sacrifice, and she will grow stronger every day!”

With that, Cheerios laid down her head and was gone.

Raisins woke that morning and felt nothing different. She went to get milk from the humans, napped under the hair dryer vent, had more milk, ate some grass, and slept some more. Brown Sugar and Raisins began to move farther in the magical camp, and they ate more and more grass. Raisins slowly began to grow.

Her horns grew straight. She ate more. She wasn’t ill. Her wool came in. Her teeth even seemed straighter. And she grew to be a large lamb who was healthy and strong, and the little herd of lambs at Úlfljótsvatn never knew that one of their own had saved them.

 

 

Prologue and Ancestry: 21st Century Saga

There once was a man called Russell. He was born in a land of four kingdoms, to parents called Steve the Unlucky and Doreen the Burner of Things. He grew up also occasionally burning Things, such as a bunker that made a plume of smoke so high that the whole village was confused. He had two sisters, Emma and Kelly. From Kelly descended a nephew called Ryan.

Russell trained a rolling combat sport from a distant land and worked hard for a long to time save gold to travel. He flew on several friendly dragons to distant continents with exotic names like South America and Asia. This is how he found his partner and wife, Coleen.

Coleen was born the farthest West of her family, the descendent of journeypeople who moved between an old world and a new one. Her entire family was born on the Eastern border of the great Atlantic sea, spread out from Baltimore to Albany. Her father was Mark and her mother was Sharon. Her siblings were the descendent of the challenger, Delaney, and Jake the Wakelee Kaneborn.

Her birth far away from the places of her ancestry in the east and Europe seemed to set her destiny to travel and move thousands and thousands of miles. She moved around the Earth and found Russell in a distant land, and they travelled a great circle around the planet together in their first year. They fell in love and were always together, and a friendly sprite married them in the land of the Scots.

An irksome witch from Russell’s land of birth commanded paper and red tape, and she decreed that only those with enough gold could live in the country with the one they loved. Russell and Coleen worked hard and learned new skills and paid taxes to the Witch’s government, but the Witch did not seem to care. She changed the rules often. New gold levels here. Higher language standards there. More proof of LOVE, in all caps of course, over there.

And so Coleen and Russell continued their journeys, not really wanting to take on the Witch and her Office of the Home directly. Traveling is fun, anyway, and made for an interesting live. This is how they found themselves in China in the last part of the story. 

In the summer of 2016, they moved to Iceland.

When they arrived, they found that the land was much as when they had visited in winter. The sky was gray. The light was low and cast longer shadows. They arrived in sequence, with Coleen bringing the colourful wind of the Rocky Mountains at her back at 6:30 AM. Russell arrived later, the rain of England misting behind him. They entered the new land of their journey with the words of Vikings above them.

“Greater weight than wisdom a traveller cannot carry.”

That summer, an invisible castle would affect the weather of the local area. They would learn the names and words of people from around the world. They would meet local gnomes, birds, and dinosaurs. A valiant sheep friend would protect another, inspiring the Great Verse of Cheerios the Valiant, a famous verse. And they were to bring more of their clan to the place of Fire, Colour, Ice, and Rock.

But they first had to settle in the land of The Settlement.

From the village of skillful people nearby, a place called Ulfjotsvatn, they were offered a quiet place. Little did they know that they were next to a place of great power in Iceland. More than 90% of the power for the country passed through their front yard, and was beamed from the blue lake to the whole of the Great Ring of Movement.

Coleen and Russell, the Nomads, unpacked their greengrayblack clothing and pushed the beds together. This is a good place, they thought. And soon, they would meet another hero.

Next time: The Ballad of Cheerios the Valiant 

A new “Icelandic Saga” – The Nomad Saga

The Icelandic Sagas are a collection of stories written about Iceland in the Medieval Age. They are about events that may have happened but also contain a hefty dose of magic, trolls, and weirdness. We decided that we would come up with our own “Icelandic Saga” while we live here for the summer. Welcome to the Nomad Saga. 

Prologue: 

There was a man named Russell Steveson, and his wife Coleen Marksdotter. They were adventurers who came from distant lands, and travelled all through the eastern parts of the world until they met each other on a bus in Korea. They fell in love, and instantly decided to travel the world as nomads together. They moved to Russell’s birthland, where Coleen did battle with a mighty Master and received as her boon for victory a very, very expensive piece of paper. Their time in England up, they decided to move to east once more.

A year in the distant reaches of Shanghai has gone past. Coleen and Russell stand in the small kitchen of the hive, looking out at the atmospheric rain below.

It must be time to go.

Adventure eluded them in China, with only a few small dragons sighted (not worth writing home about, really). No trolls or magical lambs or springs that one can drink coming out of the centre of the Earth. Our heroes needed a new adventure.

“Let us connect to the oracle of Google,” declared Russell. “It will know where we should go.”

They narrowed the choices. Southeast Asia. South America. Europe. Australia? So many places to go and so much indecision. The great Googlic Oracle did not help much, merely filling their minds with pictures of more places to go. Indecision was very strong; how could the nomads choose?

At that moment, an Arctic Tern slipped deftly through the kitchen window. The obviously totally out of place bird made a distinctive ‘Scawwwwwww’ noise, and as it did a piece of ancient-looking paper fell out of its beak.

A single word was written on the paper.

ICELAND.

The Arctic Tern took a little water from the glass Coleen offered it, and scaawwwwed again. Used to long-distance migrations, it took off less than five minutes later and left. Leaving a a small white, lumpy present behind on the counter.  By then, our heroes knew where both they and the bird were headed.

Next time: Russell and Coleen arrive in Iceland and meet with a magical lake, derpy puffins, and a ghost who really hates posters on the wall.