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On Tide Pools and How Kids Play

The heated foot bath at Seltjarnarnes 

As if someone turned on the lights, or as if the tide of seasons has turned, life in our city is bustling again. We can't honestly say winter is over, but most of us who live in cold climates will admit that we're willing to handle cold. It's dreary, murky darkness of the post holiday season and its slicing winds that do our souls in. We hunker down deeper into our parkas and wait for the sun to return.

 Make no mistake, it's still hovering around the frost mark here on our island, and some regions, like at the east coast fjords, haven't even seen beneath the past winter's snows yet (here's a link to live cameras over in the Reyðarfjörður area where
it's supposed to get to -10°C this weekend). But it's sunny! and that we can live with. (As a matter of fact, I'm sitting at Reykjavik Roasters - formally Kaffismiðjan - writing this, and at the next table an elderly gentleman just said, "Já, var að koma frá Austfjörðum, og það snjóar og snjóar...", or "I just came from the East Fjords and it snows and snows...").

Last week, when winter seemed to finally break for us here in the southwest, I went out to my favorite seawater-filled swimming pool at Seltjarnarnes (which I've shared photos of a few times before) to relax in the hot pots and enjoy the bright blue skies above. It was definitely not more than a few degrees above freezing outside, but I'll be damned if I didn't get a solid tan anyway. That's the magic of this country: like Japan's snow monkeys, we're fully committed as a people to lounging and playing as often as possible in our geo-thermally heated waters, soaking up as much vitamin D as possible while the sun shines, and even when it doesn't.

Afterwards, I decided to go out to near where the lighthouse is and take some pics, though I wasn't up for trying to go over the Grótta isthmus that leads to it for fear of getting stuck out there at high tide (which almost happened to me and Óðinn a few years ago, and I have to say it was nearly terrifying how fast the sea comes in and drowns that walkway! It's worth going out there, but please read the timetable sign for the tides!) The winds were whipping up the bay, turning it a gorgeous deep turquoise with crests of white accent, and I had hoped to be able to get that on 'film'. But all I had with me was my iPhone 5, and tit was no use trying to capture the depth and dimension of the sea view with that kind of camera. So I took a shot of an anchor and went back to my car.

The photo was good, but I wanted great, so I went back out the the seafront to try to frame the shot better. And that's when these two girls in pink bike helmets rode up, dumped their rides and gear on the grass, and headed out to the rocks below. They were probably fourth graders at most, and obviously lived close by as they seemed totally sure about what they were doing. First they went to the round heated foot bath and got some water in a plastic bottle they had. Then they kind of pranced down to a large tide pool,  discussed something amongst themselves, and chucked the bottle into it, totally satisfied. My first reaction was so adult it made me cringe, and I'm so glad I didn't follow through on it: they were littering! Didn't they know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that trash vortex endlessly swirling on the waters of the most magnificent of our Earth oceans? Didn't their parents teach them about responsible recycling? Who did they think they were?

And then I remembered being nine years old, out in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Bay, and how sometimes you had to fill a bottle with something and toss it out to sea. Worlds would fall apart if you failed to do so, and creatures unseen by grownup eyes might die! I made a conscious decision not to make a fuss, and to take some photos of them instead. When they came back up to the path, I asked if they'd sent out a message in that bottle, and one of the girls looked at me with keen eyes and said "Já já," the equivalent of "Yeah, sure," and they walked on past, got their bikes, and rode away.

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