Most of my adult life, birthdays were nothing special. I’ve always had a great time and good friends who think of me in one way or another, but I never really thought of it as a special day. When I turned 40 back in 2011, I decided to change all of that. After all, I am very grateful to be alive and healthy, I have a wonderful life and I think that’s worth celebrating. Instead of being just another day on the calendar, each of my last birthdays has been a special day in one way or another. And I’ve spent most of them in Iceland.
I kicked off the tradition on September 13, 2011 with a birthday trip to Þórsmörk. I wrote about it here in my blog if you care to reminisce with me. What I didn’t write about is the birthday party I threw afterward. I rented a whole luxurious apartment at Hlemmur square in Reykjavík and invited my closest friends who were around at the time. Mainly I celebrated my plans to start a new life in Iceland, because it was right around then that I decided to make this my second home. I want to name my dear friends here who attended, because even though I’ve lost touch with some of you, you made that day very special for me and I still think of you often: Ómar Már (who made really tasty finger food for everyone), Björg, Krista, Sigrún, Kristín, Súsanna, Steini – I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!
I’ve spent the last few birthdays at my new home in Ísafjörður. I love this time of year and I really am an autumn child. I love the beautiful fall colors, the amazing sunrises and sunsets, the berry-picking season, the first frost and the smell of winter in the air.
I start the day as usual. Get up at 5:40 am after hitting the snooze button twice on the alarm clock. I go for a walk on the beach at 6:15 and it seems like every morning there is something new to discover. Today there are hundreds of tiny, clear jellyfish scattered absolutely everywhere. Although it’s sad since they’re all dead, it’s a bit funny to observe how they all leave skid marks in the sand as the tide goes out and drags their slimy little bodies along with it before finally giving up and leaving them on shore. I’m quite amused and lose track of time. Later I discover a nice plate of homemade cinnamon buns at my doorstep from Bernhild, the upstairs neighbor. At lunch I meet Angela for Thai food. I rarely go out for food so it’s a nice little treat. Afterwards we take a nice walk before I head back to my desk. But first I open some wonderful cards and presents that have reached me by mail.
At 3pm I can finally relax. The downstairs neighbors are letting me use the car – a birthday treat. As I slam the front door behind me and jump in the driver’s seat, I wave to Helga who is dressed in old attire, giving a tour of the city to some tourists. I stop at Angela’s for some wonderful birthday cake with candles and the works. I probably haven’t blown out candles on a cake since I was ten years old. But it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon and we’re eager to get outside. We hop in the car and drive just a short distance out to Arnarnes. We meander about for a while in Arnadalur valley, looking for a way to cross the river without getting too wet, but there’s no sun there in Arnardalur so we drive on further to the path by the lighthouse.
After a short climb we’re at the top and the view is simply amazing. We climb up the ladder to the lighthouse and enjoy the view. The skies are blue and we can see clear across the Djúp to Snæfjallaströnd. The sun is shining on the church at Unaðsdalur and the beautiful waterfall Möngufoss is a majestic gouge in the cliff. Just then the airplane from Reykjavík comes in and we wave, thinking someone might see us.
We want to watch the plane take off again, but it‘s cold and windy and we can‘t just stand around and wait – so we walk. We hike up the back ridge of Arnardalsháls and have fun taking a bunch of pictures. Finally the plane takes off but it climbs up real high quickly and out of view. On the way down, we spot some nice blueberries that are too big to simply ignore. I can hear them calling to me: “Hey, don’t leave us just hanging here!” After all, they’re going to freeze off soon and that would be a shame. Just as our bellies and containers are full of berries, the sun dips behind the mountains and it gets instantly colder. Time to head back.
Thank you all my dear friends and family for making this day memorable!