Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Still Carried Away

Today marks two years of weekly "God of Wednesday" posts, and to celebrate I'm going to revisit my very first entry--not coincidentally the beginning of my very first book, A Good Horse Has No Color: Searching Iceland for the Perfect Horse:


I could hear the horses before I saw them, their hoofbeats the high slap of cupped hands clapping, beating the punctuated four-beat rhythm of the tolt, the breed's distinctive running-walk gait. From our summerhouse, I watched them through binoculars. Pinpricks on the silvery wet sand, they shimmered like a vision out of the Icelandic Sagas, the medieval literature that had brought me to Iceland in the first place. Briefly the horses took shape as they cut across the tide flats: necks arced high, manes rippling, long tails floating behind. Their short legs curved and struck, curved and struck. I would watch them until they disappeared beyond the black headland and wonder who their riders were, where they went on their rapid journey. I wanted to go with them. 

Icelandic folktales warn of the gray horse that comes out of the water, submits briefly to bridle and saddle, and at dusk carries its rider into the sea. For me, it was the watcher who was carried away.

I'm happy to say I'm still carried away: by Iceland, its folklore, its sagas, its people, its language, and its horses. A Good Horse Has No Color is back in print, in paperback, and has been joined on my shelf by two more books about Iceland, The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman and Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths. A young adult novel based on The Far Traveler will be coming out this year, and my new nonfiction book, The Ivory Vikings, scheduled for spring of 2015, has a strong Icelandic focus.

Birkir and Gaeska, the two Icelandic horses at the center of A Good Horse Has No Color are still frolicking in my pastures, now ages 23 and 24, and have two younger stablemates, Mukka and Naskur, both from the American farm Alfasaga. In addition to riding them most days (when there's no snow on the ground), I'm now collaborating with the horse-trekking firm America2Iceland to organize historical riding tours to Iceland. There's still room on our Song of the Vikings tour this June 5-11: See if you're interested. I'd love to show you the Iceland that inspires me. One of their trips even takes you along that same silvery wet sand, across the tide flats, past the black headland into … another world.

For me, being carried away by Iceland has been a wild and wonderful trip. I hope you'll continue to come along for the ride.

Join me again next week at for another adventure in Iceland or the medieval world.

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