Wednesday, January 7, 2015

With a grain of salt

Happy New Year 2015. Here in Iceland we marked the evening in our usual fashion, with the largest fireworks show on the planet. It is not planned or regulated - everyone contributes and the sky is totally ablaze and the air tastes like sulfate for a long time after, almost until noon on New Year's day. This year the country was full of tourists as the show put on by one and all has not been our little secret for some years now. I cannot recommend seeing it live strongly enough. The fireworks are sold by Icelandic rescue teams that operate year round on a voluntary basis and use the proceeds of the sales for the operation of their trucks and boats. We all love the rescue teams and we all love fireworks. Win-win.
In addition to attempting to blow a hole in the stratosphere, the annual crossroads where one year displaces another is by many here considered a time to reflect. To review what has passed and attempt to peer into the future – hopefully with increased wisdom, accrued over the previous year. Or not.

The northern lights have been unusually active over the holidays, with the night sky almost green in color two nights ago. Staring at these electric needles dance across the heavens also tends to evoke a pondering mood.

Personally I found myself standing in my back yard watching the spectacular, neck craned so far back that the back of my head and spine were aligned. I soon became mesmerized and began to wonder why the world is the way it is and more importantly, why I buy so much salt these days.

In my kitchen there has always been salt, much like other kitchens world-over. Regular plain, fine grained salt. Then came the rock salt. Followed by the flaky sea salt. But now I have a whole shelf of one of the cupboards full of miscellaneous types of salt, each odder than the other. These I pick up on my travels or when shopping within Iceland. While buying them I did not realize why they appealed to me or where the urge to stock up on salt came from.

There is the ridiculously coarse, pink Himalaya salt. In a big box and various smaller pillar edition. My mind seems incapable of absorbing the fact that I have enough Himalaya salt to use it for melting the snow in my driveway without having to do without.

Beside this stockpile is a box of truffle salt. And Scottish salt mixed with minced seaweed. Hickory, applewood smoked gourmet salt from the States. Blueberry salt from Iceland. And the inexplicably named Icelandic “jarðsjósalt” – earthsea salt that is supposedly harvested from the sea within the landmass through a cave on the Reykjanes peninsula. Pepper salt. You name it. I’ve got it.

What I came to realize is that all of these salt purchases are a sign. A sign that I do not need anything. I have already purchased everything I need. Hence I am susceptible for this type of marketing gimmickry. Fancy salt? Salt is salt. It tastes the same no matter what you call it, how pink you color it, with what you mix it or how enticing the packaging is.

The above is not be misunderstood in the way that I have so many worldly possessions that my house is overflowing. I have simply reached my personal limit of needs. And they are not spectacular. My cell phone is from 2003. My car has been at the repairman’s for over 2 years now and I really don’t even remember what color it is. My TV has never been connected to a signal. I do like shoes though.
But I am not a sucker for expensive handbags or other designer crap. You see I am mature enough to realize that women of the world need to face it: we allow ourselves to be ripped off. Be it haircuts, creams, bags... no one is forcing this stuff on us. We choose to buy it and pay more than men for the same purchase or service. But this is a detour to my point in all this. Apologies.  

Because I do need something badly. Something that alas is nowhere for sale.
What I need is time. An extra hour or two per day. If only my cupboard were full of pink Himalaya hours or even Icelandic earth sea hours. I am not sure how productive hickory smoked applewood hours would be, but I would nonetheless take them if offered. I would even pay handsomely - not more than a man though.

Soon I will be leaving this platform. Sad to go but unwilling to make my bi-weekly contributions of ever decreasing value to the reader due to the lack of time for proper preparation and contemplation. I do not want to sully the quality of the contributions by others any more than I already have.
As they say in Iceland: I will see you in the war. An odd saying seeing that we have never had a war.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. Yrsa, it comes as no surprise to me that you have such a penchant for collecting salt: After all, YOU are the salt of the earth!

    MIE would not be what it is had you not for so long contributed your grace, humor, and perfect prose. As sad as we are at your worldwide success dragging you away from us, we rejoice in your worldwide success dragging you away from us.

    But that does not exempt you from your fermented shark and Opal responsibilities when we gather the clan together every chance we for New Years 2016 in Reykjavik?

  2. Good great goose-down goat-hair garter belts! THAT'S some fireworks! One has to wonder, though, how many injuries occur during all of that???

    I know the toll recurring duties can take, but I will certainly miss your recurring wit and wisdom as it has appeared here-upon so recurringly. May your mountains be covered by fire and ice, your seas be smooth for sailing, and your pages filled with millions of wonderful words!

  3. Yrsa, quality certainly isn't the issue! I just wish my contributions to MIE were as witty, interesting and entertaining as yours! Time, however, is a completely different issue and one that is very hard to resolve.
    Please just assure me that your decision has nothing to do with the Mopane Worms!

  4. Wow, those were SOME fireworks, Yrsa. You're just trying to ensure we have to come and visit you in person on a regular basis, aren't you?

    Although I'm not sure how much extra time that will free up...

    We'll miss your erudite elegant words here, and treasure them all the more in your books.

  5. Yrsa,
    What I love: You and Oli! Your books! The wit and warmth of your great posts here on MIE. Fireworks. Exotic salt and especially the fact that you and I both collect it. Having you as a friend.
    What I don't like: that you need to withdraw from being here every two weeks, though I fully understand. We will still count you as one our tribe!
    What I hope for: That we will always be in touch, meet up often, and all good things for you and yours in 2015 and way beyond. AND that someday I will see those New Year's fireworks in person.

  6. Will definitely miss you & your contributions. Best wishes. Looking forward to more books.