Category Archives: whatnot

This Is Skammdegi

When I entered the dark Iceland winter, I did not expect to find exceptional beauty—physical beauty, as well as the lovely feeling of turning in and experiencing darkness through my entire being. I did not expect the colors to seep inside me, and I was surprised to be delighted by subdued hues of blue and gray and the blankness of white.

I never wanted to intellectualize the experience, to analyze or dramatize the delicious moods that the shadows and the cold and snow provoked. While I was in it, I just wanted to know it, to live it, to let it do what it would to me.

For my final day at Kaffi Klara, I share this impression of the dark winter/short days.

Ólafsfjörður, 20 February 2016

(Text is below the pictures.)


02_blue night siglo

04_RKV gray

03_white Aðalgata

allness of white


dark sunrise

This Is Skammdegi
judy b.

This is the winter: the new winter, the uncharted winter; the blunted light, the short days carved from a torpor that seeps into everything.

This is the dark: the still dark, the enveloping dark; the eternal shade, the constant dusk that holds the day in a continual turning in.

This is the night: the real night, the frigid night; the flicker of stars, the black of space behind ripples and plumes that wave and dissolve.

This is the blue: the marine blue, the liquid blue; the languid cloak, the fallen sky that encompasses all.

This is the violet: the cool violet, the misty violet; the inky air, the damp bruise that ends the day.

This is the gray: the easy gray, the dull gray; the low gloom, the dim phantom that haunts with a murmur.

This is the white: the stark white, the blinding white; the slow flash, the sudden blanch that erases the dark for a time.

This is the snow: the gentle snow, the furious snow; the fresh powder, the icy drift that devours leg to knee.

This is the sun: the thin sun, the cold sun; the lost disk, the muffled glow that hovers just beyond sight.

This is the day: the awaited day, the golden day; the cerulean sky, the streaming rays that nudge the will awake.


You would have asked me, What were you thinking?

I was thinking, It’s a beautiful night.

I was thinking, I love walking in my neighborhood. I don’t take enough walks.

I was thinking about being a sensitive person.IMG_2368

I was thinking that sometimes I feel like a raw nerve, calling out to the brain of humanity that its hand is on an open flame and how humanity tells me I’m too sensitive and laughs as its hand falls off.

I was thinking, I don’t need everyone to be as sensitive as I am to prove to me that I am not too sensitive. I can just be.

I was thinking, I may be outnumbered, but I am not alone.

I was thinking, as I stepped with the throng into the street, So many people are out enjoying this night.

I was thinking, Those two cyclists are not going to ride into the crosswalk.

But they did. They wove in and out and one came toward me.

And in a flash:

I was thinking, How rude!

I was thinking, Unacceptable!

I was thinking, I cannot let this go by!

I was not thinking about the reusable bag I had carried to the store, which now held a pint of non-dairy frozen dessert.

I was feeling its weight in my hand.

I was feeling like swinging it up and hitting the woman right in front of me now.

I was feeling my arm begin to make the arc and then

I was seeing the dead weight of the non-dairy frozen dessert smack that thoughtless cyclist right in the back.

I was thinking, I want to hit her.

I was thinking, I should hit her.

Then suddenly another thought was coming:


I was thinking how that would hurt.

I was thinking she would be mad. And sad. Understandably.

I was thinking, What am I thinking?

I was thinking, That is not who I am.

I stopped. She went by. I turned and yelled, EXCUSE ME.

Two voices said, Oh, excuse me.

I thought, That was close.

And then I just stopped thinking.