I have written about everything at Brekkukot, both indoors and out, which can be given a name; but I have scarcely said a word yet about my grandmother, who was certainly not some useless ornament about the place. On the other hand, if she were likened to the heart of the house, one could say exactly the same about her as one does about healthy hearts in general, that whoever is lucky enough to have such a heart is quite unaware of having a heart at all.

In his contradictions he was as much an enigma as the country itself: a religious devotee out of spite at the soullessness of men who thought of nothing but dogs and sheep, a scientific breeder of sheep because of his contempt for sheep, the Icelandic pastor of a thousand years’ folk-stories, his presence alone was a comfortable reassurance that all was as it should be.

I am not at all impressed… at how far man’s wisdom has managed to lead him; besides, it is not very great. What does surprise me, on the other hand, is how high their folly, their downright stupidity even, not to say their complete and utter blindness, has managed to raise them. Other things being equal, I prefer to follow the folly of man, for that has brought him farther than his wisdom.

And when the spring breezes blow up the valley; when the spring sun shines on last year’s withered grass on the river banks; and on the lake; and on the lake’s two white swans; and coaxes the new grass out of the spongy soil in the marshes – who could believe on such a day that this peaceful, grassy valley brooded over the story of our past; and over its spectres?

1 2