EDITOR’S NOTEBurien resident Fred Feiertag’s column for The B-Town Blog will help you start your week every Monday. He will be sharing his observations, travel stories, wanderings and more…

In the last several columns, I have shared stories of my personal discovery of Iceland. 

There was much more to it. There is such a thing as sharing too much and I don’t want to take you there.  

I’m certainly not finished telling about adventures in that special place. I think I’ll switch from a travelogue to more just telling stories. It will be easier for me if I don’t have to remember all the facts and keep them separate from the tall tales. This is supposed to be entertaining and not just informative. I will say that all my stories have truth in them, but not all these stories are true!

After the trip I just finished telling you about, my life had some annoying changes. I began to deal with an abundance of problems. Eventually – as in several months later – my collection of doctors concluded that I was contending with the Long Covid syndrome. Some of them still won’t admit this as a fact, but that is too much for this narrative. I have had to give up most activities of a healthy retired person. Getting out of the house became a visit to some doctor or clinic. My social life was stopped and the continuous exhaustion prevented me from doing anything interesting.

The worst came about a year ago when I had a couple of post-Covid related mini-strokes that have impacted my memory and speech centers. Time has been a great treatment for this and I can now get along with normal life. My public speaking days are over I think.  Much to the relief of the tiny audiences that have had to listen to me. The challenge of writing has been a good therapy for me. I do hope it has been at least a bit entertaining for the readers.

As I said, I’m not done with Iceland. Just a month ago I returned from a three-week trip back there. I did more of the tourist things with side trips, interesting dining, and cultural immersion. In the following few columns I will tell the story of some of those activities. The conclusion I drew from my longer stay is that Iceland didn’t disappoint me and again my return to a long stay at home give me time to prepare for my next Iceland visit.

I have been studying Icelandic language. My trips to foreign countries have always left me with regrets that I could not speak the language of my hosts. For several months I’ve been taking online Icelandic language training along with my breakfast each morning. My vocabulary is nearly to a useful level. My grammar and pronunciation have a long way to go. The Icelandic language is very interesting just by itself. It is a direct descendant of the Viking language with only slight influence from their Scandinavian neighbors. The written version is enough like the earliest Viking text that modern Icelandic readers can understand much of the old Viking text. The relative isolation of Iceland and the limited amount of immigration has kept the language from changing. The modern culture protects the language and has some interesting rules.

Part of protecting the language and its cultural roots is the Icelandic Personal Names Register committee. They publish a list of names that are permitted for new born Icelandic children. Changes to the list are published each month. Two examples from 2022 are “Ísvöld,” now approved for females, which means “ice ruler.” “Sprettur” is now approved for males. Until this year, it had been a name for horses. Yes, they have an approved list for horse names, although it is less rigorously enforced. “Sprettur” means a spring, or a spurt originating from Icelandic vocabulary. Each month the list’s changes make for interesting reading. This is a way to judge how fast the language is evolving. The changes are coming slowly from my reading of the lists. Sort of like the speed at which I’m becoming fluent in their language.  

I don’t want to leave you without some nice pictures. My picture collection has gotten to be too much to share the whole of it. So here are just a few that support this week’s words and an example that just makes me. I truly believe that every picture does tell a story, usually more than one. 

Fred Feiertag is a Burien resident who enjoys traveling and sharing stories. He is also an expert metallurgist with over 40 years' experience in casting and foundry technology.