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  • Peggy Simonsen

Green Iceland and Icy greenland

Iceland in the summer is a beautiful moss green. Even the lava, that has flowed from the many volcanoes over the millennia, is covered with lichen and moss. The temperature ranges from 40s on the west coast to 70s in the “sunny north.” We flew into Reykjavik, the biggest city, but drove to Selfloss, our headquarters for exploring waterfalls, geysers and the black glacier (see Snow and Ice). We also visited a local business of dying wool (all those sheep) with native plant materials. I learned that Indigo (a species of which I have growing in my yard) is used of course for blue, but it comes from the leaves, not the blue flower.

We hiked out on the Snaefelsness peninsula on the west side of the island, with winds whipping off the North Atlantic Ocean. The spectacular cliffs remind me of the Cliffs of Moher on the coast of Ireland. The whole island is mountainous, igneous rock from active and dormant volcanoes.

At Lake Myvatn are active fumeroles, vents letting off boiling hot steam, plus bubbling “mud pots”. The whole area is covered with sulfur, residue that is left when the water evaporates. So its barren, with few plants able to grow in the heat and chemicals.

Iceland is a geological laboratory! The forces that formed it are still active, heightened by the fact that it sits on the rift between the European plate and the North American plate, which are moving apart and exposing ever more forces from the earth’s mantle.

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