By Bryndís Víglundsdóttir
Editor's Note: Bryndís Víglundsdóttir is the beloved story-teller and author of Guðríður’s Saga. She has just completed her second book for Icelandic Roots, which is a collection of heartwarming stories about the life of a young boy growing up in Iceland in the early part of the twentieth century. The book is now available to purchase here.
A greeting from Bryndís, who put the stories of Mundi on paper so you could read them.
When we see or hear something we think would be of value for other people to know, we put words together in our mind and create a story about what impressed us. I wrote the stories about Mundi, the boy from the West Fjords of Iceland, because I thought and still think their message is good. I think it is good for children to hear about people who live in peace with themselves, other people, and the environment.
When Mundi told me about his childhood, I kept thinking about telling his stories to other people, children and adults. So I wrote the stories he was telling me.
I have told Sögur af Mundi- “Stories about Mundi” to children, read them over the radio (RUV), and learned that adults listened, too. I have visited many grade schools, telling the children stories of Mundi and discussing them with the children, who usually had many questions.
Mundi was born in a lowly turf house in the valley, Ingjaldssandur, surrounded by high and treacherous mountains of the West Fjords. Passing over these mountains was really not possible except during three months of the year. Should an emergency occur in the winter, the North Atlantic Ocean was the only “road” out of the valley going for help.
When Mundi was growing up on Ingjaldssandur, thirteen families lived there, all in turf houses, similar to Mundi’s home. His home was named Álfadalur -"The valley of the elves." When Mundi was not busy with his chores, he would often play with the boys from the other farms. One of his chores was watching over the sheep during the bright summer nights and bringing them home for milking in the morning. This was quite a task for a young boy. The milk from the ewes was used to make skyr and cheese that would have to last through the winter.
Some years, there was hardly a summer warm enough for the grass to grow. Those years were difficult.
Mundi learned at a young age to react in the best possible way to situations that sometimes were not easy or pleasant.
His living conditions were in many ways similar to what the people who left Iceland and emigrated to North America had. Although I never heard him say that he and his family had little, I know for a fact that he and the other children in his home had, for example, only one set of clothing. When the clothes needed washing, the children had to stay in bed until the clothes had dried.
I hope many children in North America will read or hear the stories of Mundi. I also hope parents and grandparents will read the stories with the children and talk about them.
Since I am not with you in person, I would be very happy to answer any questions you might have. Send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with Mundi in the subject line.
The fine artist Gay Strandemo illustrated the stories of Mundi. And then, her good husband, Tracy Will, took care of all the work involved in turning a manuscript into a book. I am very grateful to these fine and clever people.
I hope many of you will get to know Mundi, the boy from the West Fjords of Iceland.