Icelandic cataclysms large and small

The geothermal pool at our guesthouse in Keflavik

Fourth of July with the UW field crew. Beach: normal, mittens and hats: not so much.

The view from the backyard of our farmhouse

I think they're talking about sulphur-reducing bacteria. I wasn't really listening.

A few bandages can't stop the flower-picking

Sulphur-reducing bacteria-eye view of us.

Mama by Milo

It's midnight and I am watching the sun on the horizon, though the light gets most magical around 1 a.m. Tonight after the children finally collapsed at 11 pm, we went birdwatching. Visiting Iceland in the heart of their summer is a bit of a mindgame: the day never ends but summer arrives in, like, two seconds. It's been cold, really cold, and the landscape looks - even for Iceland - rather bleak. And then, poof!, it's sunny, still and 17 degrees celsius.

Our travels with two little ones in tow were relatively easy. The most challenging part was the sketchy airport hotel in Milwaukee. The best part was waking in a guesthouse in Keflavik beneath handmade crocheted blankets to a breakfast of Icelandic smoked salmon, fresh baked bread and homemade skyr. After fortifying ourselves with dark coffee, fish and a family soak in the backyard geothermal pool, we set out for Lake Myvatn, a six-hour drive along Iceland's ring road. Given the time difference (5 hours) we woke late and only set out for our trip mid-afternoon. Which meant when we stopped to view the Golfoss waterfall en route to our field house in Lake Myvatn, it was 11:45 p.m. Messed up.

The trip has already been filled with more cataclysms than I bargained for. This country is a study in big geological events, those I was prepared for. The one I was less prepared for was Kyra's fall into the 4th of July beach bonfire and the terrifying 45-minute drive to the hospital to have her burned hand (and to a much lesser extent, lip) treated. She is fine, healing remarkably well and shockingly not in as much pain as we expected given the 2nd and 3rd degree burns her little hand suffered. The doctor (named Unnstein!) treated her hand, sedated her and released her about an hour later and we got to take her home. We anticipated a long night, especially as the pain relief wore off. Instead she slept all night and woke in a good mood, almost delighted at the big white drumstick her right hand had become overnight. The entire hospital experience here was as surreal as the endless light. The young doctor in Diesel jeans who came to unlock the clinic door and let us in, the sign asking visitors to remove their shoes before entering the hospital and the billing process. As in: none. He told us not to worry about it, it had already been a hard night and we should go home and take care of our daughter.

Today, we watched this little girl of ours not skip a beat. She just ate and played with her left hand and by the end of today, had mastered a pretty functional pincer grip with the exposed tip of her thumb and index finger of the injured hand (see flower-picking above!). Given her cheery disposition, we took her and Milo to some much calmer catalysmic sites: fumaroles and boiling mud pots. Tomorrow, she'll have her bandages changed and then probably master left-handed chopsticks.

Stay tuned...


Elizabeth @claritychaos said...

Oh, Helen. Little Kyra! This brought me to tears - for you as much as her! I am so glad to hear that spunky little gal is so resilient in her spirits.

Happy to hear you made it safely and I will certainly be keeping up with your blog. Keep the pictures coming! Love to you all. xo

Anonymous said...

Even with the cataclysm, color me JEALOUS!

Marlena said...

So glad to read that Kyra's ok after an unplanned nightmarish adventure. Ugh.

p.s. the photo Milo took of you is a keeper!

Erika Monroe-Kane said...

Good lord! What a way to start. Know that I speak from experience when I say, she'll never remember and its much harder on you than her. Hope you all recover soon.

Beyond that, please bring home a little family thermal bath for me!

Gretchen said...

Poor Kyra! But it looks like the beginning of a grand adventure nonetheless. I am jealous! keep us updated, especially those of us tethered to Madison by an insurance company leash!

Riverfish72 said...

I wish I knew an appropriate Icelandic exclamation. Glad care came so smoothly- you would have had an extra 2-hour wait around here! The photos and descriptions are beautiful. Keep 'em coming!

Jessica Becker said...

Whoa. What a story. So glad everything turned out alright.

Yesterday Zadie fell off the couch and bumped her head. I was holding her as she screamed and then all of a sudden, she passed out. Went silently limp! It was crazy. Ambulance came and she had rebounded. They left her with a stuffed puppy. So I guess her and Kyra will have a lot to talk about. Happy adventuring and hugs to you all!