Where the wild Things are. Þingvellir National Park, Iceland, Jan 2013.
Today, Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) is a beautiful National Park, with milky waterfalls, hiking paths and a lake below which Iceland is “drifting apart” between the North American and Eurasian continental plates. Divers can swim between continents in the Silfra Rift. Affluent Icelanders (including musician Björk) are said to have summer cottages along Þingvallavatn Lake. I see neither the Rift nor Björk, and I have definitely missed the ‘thing’. By about 215 years.
From circa 900-1800, the ruling Vikings organized their Alþingi here, the oldest continuous parliament in the world. It was held outdoors for two weeks, in the summer, I hasten to add. People came to hear the leaders, settle quarrels, talk important matters, and trade. By all accounts, it was a rather wild thing!
On a snowy, windy winter evening, with limited visibility, we stand on the ridge from where the laws were supposed to have been declared, and wonder what this place looked like during a crowded, boisterous “thing”. The church at Þingvellir is brightly lit, and we are drawn to it, literally, like moths. It’s a wildly evocative place. The sky is changing color. We should leave, we tell each other, for the nth time.