The Art of Icebergs

By Sharon Goldberg

April 29, 2019

The Art of Icebergs

In Jokulsarlon Lagoon, at the edge of Vatnajokull, Iceland's largest glacier, ten of us and Erik, our guide, bounce bounce bounce in a Zodiac boat. We are here to see icebergs, calves of the glacier, chunks that break off and fall into the water. Like our fellow adventure seekers, my partner Arnie and I each wear a flotation suit, life jacket, and helmet; the September air is cold, the water colder.

Erik slows the boat and tools closer to the floating structures—a gallery of sculptures, some domed, some pinnacled, some flattish blocks. They are blue, white, many blackened with volcanic ash, several graced with seals basking in the sun. I spot a fairytale castle, a Sydney Opera House sweep of sails, a shark’s gaping mouth.

“Only ten percent of each iceberg is visible,” Erik says.

I imagine the masses below. The lagoon is 300 meters deep.

An iceberg flips as if rolling in sleep.

“The glaciers are melting,” Erik says. “Climate change.”

He reaches into the water and lifts out a foot-long chunk of ice. We pass it around. Melting, melting, melting, I think. One day Vatnajokull will be gone. The floating gallery gone. The seals gone, sunning elsewhere. But for now, I will those chilling thoughts away. I am in Iceland floating at the foot of a giant, white wonder. I am not likely to be back this way again. I hold the glacial fragment. It glistens in the sunlight: clear, clean, facetted like fine crystal. Lovely.

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