With Plover’s Arrival, Spring Officially Begins in Iceland

golden plover in iceland

Last Friday, a European golden plover was spotted in Garður, a town in the western portion of Suðurnes peninsula, Vísir reports, and in Iceland that means one thing overall: spring has returned. Guðmundur Hjörtur Falk Jóhannesson saw four of the birds in the village last Friday, and was able to snap a few photos.

According to Icelandic tradition, the arrival of the plover is the herald of spring, migrating as they do to the island as the months begin to get warmer. While this could be said for many birds migrating to and from Iceland, the golden plover likely stands out due to the fact that a whole third of the world’s entire golden plover population nests in Iceland.

This is reflected in Icelandic folklore as well. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the poem “Lóan er komin” by the Icelandic poet Páll Ólafsson, who penned this verse in around 1875:

The plover has arrived to bid the snow farewell
to bid boredom farewell, that she does.
She has told me that soon the whimbrel will come,
sunshine in valleys and blossoms in fields.
She has told me of my sins,
I sleep too much and I don’t work much.
She has told me to wake up and work
and with great hopefulness welcome the summer.

This poem, like more than a few Icelandic poems, has been set to song, and has featured a number of creative arrangements.

For the record, the vernal equinox–that is, the actual first day of spring–for the northern hemisphere was on March 20th.

Grindavík Residents Demand Pension Funds Lower Interest Rates, Loan Repayments

grindavík evacuation

A group of Grindavík residents visited the offices of Gildi pension fund to demand that Gildi and other funds to lower interest rates and repayments on housing loans, RÚV reports.

The major commercial banks have agreed to lower interest rates and repayments on housing loans for three months due to the natural disaster in Grindavík, and now residents are demanding of pension funds to do the same.

Statements from the funds indicate that they are investigating whether this is possible.

Addressing a group of Grindavík residents yesterday, December 4, director of Gildi, Árni Guðmundsson, stated: “I have said it many times, this matter is under review, it’s not concluded, and until it is, we cannot say anything more about it,”

When asked why the pension funds have taken longer to respond than the commercial banks, Árni stated: “Different rules and laws apply to us compared to the banks. Entirely different regulations and laws apply to us, and we just need our time to ensure that this is legally permissible for us.”

Hörður Guðbrandsson, chairman of the Grindavík Labor Union, stated to RÚV: “We received no real answers. They say it’s under review and it has been under review for an incredible amount of time, and they can’t find any reasons to support it. We were here protesting last Thursday and got the same answers. They just have no answers for us, and we’ll keep coming here until they come up with something sensible for us.”

Hörður also mentioned that the protesters received a poor reception, as they had trouble entering the building, the police were outside, and security guards were inside.

With Growing Debts, Árborg Municipality Nears Bankruptcy

Selfoss - Suðurland - Ölfusá

The municipality of Árborg in South Iceland is facing financial difficulties due to inflation and a decline in real estate revenues.

Following an assessment of the municipality’s financial situation by international accounting firm KPMG, the municipal council has called a meeting with residents to discuss the town’s financial position, which is reportedly extremely challenging compared to other municipalities.

The town has taken out loans with increasing interest rates in recent years, and the council fears that they may be on the verge of bankruptcy, with a negative net worth of ISK 76,000 [$550, €509] per resident. In contrast, other comparable towns like Reykjanesbær, Mosfellsbær, Akureyri, and Akranes have positive net worth per resident.

See also: No Gender Pay Gap in Árborg

The town has been in financial trouble for a long time, with a negative net worth per resident of ISK 20,000 in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be entirely blamed for the financial situation, but the town invested heavily in infrastructure and construction in recent years, including new schools, sports facilities, and a kindergarten, which have contributed to the financial issues. The council is concerned that they may have to resort to layoffs and selling off assets to address their financial problems.

Mayor of Árborg Municipality, Fjóla Kristinsdóttir, stated to Vísir: “I expect there will be some streamlining. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. But of course, we are not going to pay off the municipality’s debts by just streamlining operations. There needs to be more done.”

Árborg’s debt is approximately ISK 28 billion [$205 million, €188 million], with increasing debt-to-income ratios. The council is currently discussing possible solutions, including raising taxes, reducing spending, or selling assets. However, the town’s mayor notes that many of the investments made in recent years have been necessary due to the town’s growing population, and it is challenging to balance the needs of the community with the financial constraints they now face.