Did I mention that Esther fell in love? Fell oh so hard and oh so briefly. In Snaefellsnes, where else, the mystical Jules Vernian center of the earth and also, according to new age mythology, a feminine energy vortex center that causes supernatural phenomena. How appropriate. The man, an uncle of an Icelandic friend of ours, owned an enormous horse farm, what else. We stopped in for a visit on our way up to Helga’s. He started with a tour of his horse barn and then his other barn full of shiny new tractors and farm equipment. Esther raised her eyebrows and whispered, “He likes big toys.” He showed us his prized pregnant mares and explained he was building up his breeding herd. We tromped all around his farm, following him single file on the rocky tussocks. Esther, like an alpha mare, quickly pulled up in front with him. He was a tall, lean, elderly man with a handsome weathered face. He had courtly manners, a rare and long-lost breed of gentleman. Naturally, his English was perfect with that utterly charming Icelandic lilt. He had been an aeronautical engineer, a business man, lived all over, and in his retirement bought his farm. It was a typical summer day in Iceland: cloudy with intermittent rain, then head-splittingly bright and sunny; then a fog rolled in from the sea, enveloped us briefly before settling in around Snaefellsjokull (the glacier). When the fog lifted, it was like a spell had befallen us—the sea a glassy cobalt blue; the famed volcanic mountain wreathed in wispy clouds; the farmland a deep and verdant green. When Iceland is green, it is a rich and bright color-of-life green that your senses can barely take in. It feels full of extra oxygen. It must have been all this oxygen that got to Esther. While we were being stirred by the mystical, seduced by nature, Esther was hooking up. After the walk, he invited us all up to the barn for coffee. It is a sign of a rich farm when there is a full-sized kitchen in the barn, and his kitchen was on the second floor with a picture window overlooking the indoor arena, a very nice farm indeed. While he set up the coffee maker, we watched Esther work it. She gushed on about the farm, “Oh the view, oh the horses, oh the tidal island.” One minute they were discussing a gray horse Esther had taken a liking to, the next minute she asked, “Can I ride him next year?” There was a next year, we noted. “Of course,” he said. It was hard to read if he was bewildered by her, amused, or just unfailingly polite. The coffee was poured and a pot of fresh milk along with it (a rich yellowy cream from the neighboring farm). Then it was, “Oh the milk, oh the coffee.” Esther offered to help clean up while we looked at photos on the wall.
When we got in the car, Esther was humming, quite pleased with herself. “It’s all arranged. We’re coming back next year and spending two days. He’s going to provide the horses and we’re riding out to the tidal island.
“How romantic,” we teased her.
“He was soooo handsome, wasn’t he?”
“He has a wife,” she said cheerily.
“And you have a husband.”
She thought about this for awhile. “You don’t know me, I’m a terrible flirt. I make such trouble.”