Etwas the Elf

Etwas the Elf
Our heroine, photo by Maia Ycot

Monday, February 13, 2012

The elf on the shore of Hvalfjördur

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf took a journey up and across Ingolfsfjall and down onto the broken plains that lead towards Reykjavik.  Trudging and cartwheeling through the snow, Etwas continued overnight until she reached the foot of Mount Esja, the holy site of Elvendom.  She climbed the mountain reverently and placed a lupin blossom in the tiny box where Elf pilgrims left their signs.

She stood on the rock until the sky turned pink in the East and purple in the west, the sacred time when the hidden people make plans.  As soon as her skin felt warm, she trotted down the northern side until she came to the banks of Hvalfjördur, the fjord of whales.

Just at the waters edge, she found a large flat stone and she carpeted it with green moss from the mountainside to make herself a soft place.  And there she knelt and put her hands into the frigid water.  She watched her wrists refract into the efficient curved shape of two seals sleeping in parallel.  Then she put her forehead in the water and opened her eyes and saw herself in a tiny forest of algae that reminded her spirit of home in the rough places of Europe.

Then she opened her mouth and sang an Elven drinking song but in the water the notes came slower and lower than when you sing it on a tiny table.  The song sounded sadder and lasted longer than when you dance to it.

And deep in the water, a young bull calf balene heard the song and followed it until he beached himself just close enough to the shore to see the tiny elf singing and know he'd been tricked.

Meanwhile, Etwas, who preferred her mischief harmless thought to save the whale so she made herself a long rope and knit a tiny canoe from birch leaves.  She poled behind the whale and tried to save him by yanking his tail back to the deep water.

All she managed was to push and pull her boat back and forth, sloshing behind the beached whale.  But Etwas had learned about leverage so she walked along the entire south shore of Hvalfjördur with her knife, carving the ice that grew just above low tide.  Then she walked the north shore from the waterfall almost to Akranes carving the ice there.  Then she got back into her birchleaf canoe and tied the rope around the tail once more and put the other end in her mouth and towed the calf out to the deep water using her miles-long oars.

And ever since then, whales hardly ever fall in love with any singer smaller than krill.


  1. Thanks, Karen. Gledileg bolludagur to you, too.

  2. Doug, your very cute daughter, Emma Lynn, hasn't had a daily adventure in over 10 weeks.

  3. Right you are, Karen. They still happen every now and again, but I haven't been writing them down.

  4. Today was Emma Lynn's First Annual 4th of July Indiana Ice Cream Social !!!

  5. This brings the beautiful scenery of the whale fjord to my thoughts... we drove along the entire shore all the way around. What a lovely story. I almost forgot how talented a writer you are.

    1. Thanks, Terry. Monika and I did the same drive, ending at Akranes. Sure is pretty.