asked our minister when he saw us buying warm clothes at a sporting-goods store.

I paused trying to decide whether to say “a jumbo jet” or “Delta Airlines.”

“Luke’s always wanted to go,” replied my wife answering the intent of the question. It has been a nearly five-year thought of mine to go to Iceland. Who knows why certain thoughts and goals become lodged in our minds?

Melville1 speaks of an island “not down in any map; true places never are.” Iceland seems a similar place. Yes, there are maps of it and GPS devices and in many ways it’s as modern a country as there is. But Iceland has a certain mystique about it; similar to Texas and Italy and Memphis. A place whose remoteness and wonder make it seem like a “true place.”

Anyone who listens to the beauty and quirkiness of Sigur Rós and Björk ought to wonder what kind of country could nurture such creativity. The countless photos of inexpressibly beautiful scenery with an other-worldliness about it, descriptions of lava fields, Hidden People, countless raging waterfalls, active glaciers and volcanos, and the beautiful desolateness of it all draw me in.

And puffins.

Puffins have captivated me years. Something about their clownish faces and squatty bodies and orange beaks. Yes, there are puffins in Newfoundland and the Faroes and Norway, but they do not compare with the prospect of seeing one in Iceland. Photographing a puffin in the wild is on my bucket list.

That’s what’s taking me to Iceland. A vision of a magical place my imagination and soul seeks.

(that and Zeppelin’s Iceland-inspired Immigrant Song)

Moby Dick, chapter 12, speaking of the fictitious Rokovoko. Melville had the good fortune to live in a time before pervasive maps and satellite images took some of the wonder from the world. ↩︎