Celtic Rift Riff
Speaking of monolithic Rock outcroppings, Stonehenge wasn’t the only ancient concert hall – check out Iceland’s Thingvellir!
I had an opportunity to visit Iceland for an international hockey tourney last year and naturally I packed along my flute. I even took along my Loaded Skateboard, although, not sure if I had extended travel insurance, I elected not to ride Reykjavik’s hilly, cobbled streets!
One afternoon a bunch of us took an excursion to see some of the geologic and historic wonders in the area, and this led us to spectacular Thingvellir. This massive, above-ground outcropping of the mid-Atlantic rift is, I learned, the hallowed location of some of the earliest democratic activity in the world, where eleven clan chiefs would meet as early as the 10th Century. Learn more here.
For this particular recording, I asked a hockey buddy to walk off with my Edirol while I read through this playful Celtic tune. I had learned that – perhaps surprisingly – Celtic influence plays an integral role in Iceland’s colourful and rich history. The early Irish travelled to Iceland to escape persecution, inadvertently introducing early Christianity and ancient Celtic culture to the island.
This recording is un-edited, and includes a long tag at the end with the ambient sound of the ever-present wind, the crunching of the lava-gravel of the pathway underfoot, as well as the distant sound of muted conversation. I still don’t have a full gasp of the sheer scale of this place, however I learned afterwards that a couple who had wandered up to the top of the ridge heard the sound of my flute from a great distance and reported that it echoed up and down the valley in a most remarkable way. Listen carefully in the first 10 seconds and you will get a glimpse of what they heard – there are a few seconds where the flute echos beautifully against the ancient rock walls.
Here are some earlier posts from my trip to Iceland. Democratic Flute? It’s clearly an Icelandic ‘thing’!
In reading what follows you might get the impression that I’ve been watching just a little too much of Rick Mercer and his fabulous rants!
But, that being said, and speaking of democracy and hockey…
2008 was a banner year for democracy – just south of the border the democratic convention alone seemed to get even higher ratings than the OJ trial. And then there was Obama’s euphoric nomination, let alone that singular, stupendous midnight speech of his in front of a sea of people in Chicago: democracy – not to mention television ratings – doesn’t get any better than this!
The US election contained such fanfare, it made Harper’s snap election here in Canada seem like a pathetic sideshow. Yes, in case you blinked, Canada had an election as well, and everyone would still be shaking their heads wondering “What was that?” if there wasn’t a brand new circus that’s rolled into Ottawa: The Circus Prorogue, camped out way passed it’s welcome in our nation’s capital.
While the rest of us head dutifully back to work and stare down our bills, Harper is off at a hockey game with his son, desperate to win some badly needed political points…on a school-night, no less! Sure, it was the Canada-Sweden final, but when I saw our beloved Prime Minister being interviewed before the game, I almost lost my slice of Whole Foods pizza that I was downing for dinner!
Doesn’t a genuine leader who attends a sporting event sit with some poise, remain in their seat and then perhaps hustle off quietly during second intermission to attend to important business? Not in this case, it would seem. Harper was there being interviewed as the game was about to begin, larger-than-life. With his smug mug thrust into my living room just as I was trying to eat, for god’s sake, he was simpering on about how “Canada will rise victorious in the face of competition on the international stage …” or some equally cliched, insipid claptrap. And besides, who was with his young son while he was chasing down the limelight, pontificating with this thinly-veiled, political grandstanding?
Nice father-son outing: “Excuse me, junior, I have to take off for a while to address the nation – just wait here, I shouldn’t be too long, and, hey, cheer extra loud for me if I’m not back before the game starts!” Needless to say, I quickly changed the channel for a few minutes before finally calming down, finishing my pizza and settling into the hockey game.
Is it just me, or was this a really tacky move on our prime minister’s part? I mean, sure, attend the game – even bring along your son on a weeknight if mom approves – but I’d have thought Harper was on holidays from the national microphone. Unless of course he’s feeling a tad awkward about the whole prorogue con-flab: what a joke!
All I can say is thank god he didn’t jinx the game with his transparent political posturing !
Here is another perspective from on top of the ridge that can be seen in the first image. This is basically view that my friends had when they heard me playing from afar. I was positioned just in the steps that can be viewed in the middle of the image, and would have been a very small figure, although the sound of the flute carried nicely.
The Celtic music might seem a little incongruous, however, like in the previous post about Stonehenge, one can only conjecture what kind of music has sounded in this haunting canyon over the centuries and millenia!