I hadn’t been looking forward to it, but with the first rains due any day now, the time for procrastination was long over. The orchid tree had become an unruly mess and was sprawling over the herb patch menacingly like a schoolyard bully. It’s not the sawing and chopping that puts me off, in fact I love the whole ‘Tool Time Tim’ element. It’s the getting rid of the disaster area debris afterwards that adds a real comatose inducing aspect to it.
Every branch has to be cut into manageable pieces with a pair of secateurs and put into garden refuse bags; a painfully long process which leaves me with blisters and aching hands. On the brighter side, it does give a much needed boost to the woodpile. Even here at a 100 metres or so altitude, there’s a noticeable difference in temperature from the coast and during December to March, evenings can be on the cool side; a good excuse to fire up the wood burning stove.
I’d been going at it for a couple of hours, the pile of branches stubbornly refusing to diminish. My motivation, like the strength in my hands, was on the point of taking a vacation when a loud squawking in the distance told me that a flock of parrots were heading my way. I never tire of seeing parrots, so it was the perfect excuse to down tools for a few seconds to watch their multicoloured fly-past. This time there were six of them; large lime green ones heading for the hills, no doubt escapees from Loro Parque (a zoo on the other side of Puerto de la Cruz).
Brief interlude over, I picked up the secateurs and with a deep sigh turned to face the chest high pile of branches again to find that I had another avian visitor, a more unexpected one. Sitting on the branches, just a few inches away was a robin with the most vivid red breast. An incongruous vision in the warm sunshine on an island near the coast of Africa. But then, the festive season is just around the corner. Already Christmas lights are starting to spring up around the town. There’s chestnuts roasting on open braziers beside the harbour for the fiesta of San Andrés, so why not a robin in our garden. All that we need now is for it to snow on the volcano (usually happens toward the end of November) to complete the picture. And if I ever finish getting rid of those damn orchid branches that’ll be the Yule time log on the Christmas cake. Chestnuts, robins, snow on Mount Teide and a roaring fire – and it’s warm during the day. You just couldn’t have a more perfect combination.