Only fifteen days ago we arrived on this litle farm tucked into a spectacular peninsula ringed with pseudocraters and lava pillars. It's not at all an exaggeration to describe this place as other-worldly. In fact, a couple of nights ago, a film crew was flying helicopters over our farm taping footage for an upcoming Ridley Scott movie about life on another planet. Accordingly, these last 15 days have felt like a surreal dance between ephemeral and eternal. In some ways, our life has been no different: we wake up (too early, always too early), feed everyone and the kiddos and I play, plan, work and argue together, along with the other three children staying here until last week). We all have lunch together, then there's some version of nap, reading, quiet time. Then dinner, play and sleep. Some days, Jake calls a family day and we get in a car and travel for the day to hike, explore and relax together. It's the everyday rhythm of life with two children under 5.
Only with a twist: our daily outings have been hikes to volcanoes and Dr. Seuss-worthy lava fields. Snack is frequently dung-smoked char on cave-baked bread or skyr with rhubarb sauce. The rhubarb sauce is homemade from colossal rhubarb growing by the lake behind our house. Milo can identify the species of midge that lands on his sweater (Plumosus, look at his antennae, mama!). The neverending daylight and all the vaulting ambition that comes with it. When I hang laundry to dry, I have to make sure the sheep won't eat it.
Today, we hiked over a couple of hills before dinner to catch up with "our" sheep, the mama and her lamb, and chat with them for a while, feeding them stalks of fresh angelica. Then we headed to some of the students' experimental plots to check on how many midges were in the traps. We walked along the lake, nibbling on wild sorrel leaves and looking for the arctic tern chicks that were patrolling this stretch of lakeshore last week. Kyra picked buttercups and put them all under her chin. She doesn't know why yet, she has just seen us do it. It was magical, in some ways exactly what I'd hoped for this trip to be: an opportunity to be out in nature a lot, to feel a relationship with a place and its plants and animals. To let them wander outside without our needing to hover nearby. To get used to walking and hiking. I watch these children seemingly growing before our eyes at the dinner table, brimming with these new experiences. I feel grateful and awed that we can do this together as a family.
And yet, it's required moments of digging deep for reserves of patience. Rainy days are hell when you live in a place where children lying on the floor skeeves you out and the sofa smells suspicious. While I have joked about wanting the farmhouse life, pitching headlong into 24-7 children, with jetlag, 15 other roommates and days of laundry, breadmaking and child-tending stretching before me left me feeling occasionally, oh, insane. And that's with an amazing husband who has been working hard to balance the field and the family (I do not envy him that task). But, I knew those days would probably happen, and we have been trying to go easy on ourselves when they do. Bad parenting moments definitely didn't get left at home...
In two days, we roll out of here to tour the country along its famed ring road and then land in Reykjavik for another three days. I am already starting to miss it here and yet am excited we get Jake to ourselves for a whole week. And there are glaciers to see, parks to play in, swimming pools to visit, strange foods to eat. And a lovely flat with a not-terrifying bathroom in a beautiful city. But most important, there is adventuring to be done as a family.