Archive for November, 2007

Who needs a Native American shaman and a rain dance to make the heavens open? I’ve got a much better idea; wash the car after neglecting it for so long that its silver surface had turned Saharan sand coloured. Although it had been between 27-30 degrees and a blue sky most of the day, I should have known that giving the car an overdue bath was tempting fate.

A Stormy SunsetA sign that the first November rains were on the way was the sudden striking up of a frog chorus after months of refusing to utter a note. After about an hour of excited croaking, bulbous black clouds bullied the mauve sunset out of the way and the frogs were rewarded by a sudden downpour.

It only lasted about fifteen minutes and was replaced by the most amazing light show. Above the clouds a magnificent thunderstorm raged, with almost continuous forks of lightning lighting up the clouds spectacularly from the inside (what my nephew would call a battle between Sephiroth and Cloud – a Final Fantasy reference). The display lasted for a couple of hours and proved a much more enjoyable alternative to what was happening on a football pitch in England.

Sometime in the early hours, the heavens really let rip and it monsoon-ed down for much of the night. I could almost hear the garden sighing from the comfort of my bed. By morning I wouldn’t have been surprised to see an ark floating past the window, but the rain had subsided to almost a drizzle and the first blue patches of sky were beginning to show. Everywhere was fresh and gleaming. The leaves on the trees looked as though they’d just been given a fresh coat of emerald gloss.
I know it’s little consolation to those people who are on holiday here on Tenerife (at least this downpour only happened during the night), but the sight of the rain was very welcome after a long dry summer; it’s great to see everything in the Garden of Hespérides looking shiny and new again.

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).

Robin keeping me company 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.

Three beers, two bottles of red
And a stomach full of gin.
The Doors at full blast
And I’m ready to begin.

Inside my head words, images, ideas
Explode like literary bombs.
The greatest stories never told,
It’s a creative maelstrom.

My imagination is singing,
But my limbs have become lead.
The last shred of lucidity,
Sends me staggering to bed.

Morning rouses me from my coma,
In pain and bereft.
With a million brain cells in tow,
All the fantastical tales have left.

This revelation was prompted by a steaming bowl of Moroccan potato stew.

Thought 1:
‘Those potatoes look seriously hot. I bet if I bite into one, it’ll scald the roof of my mouth.’

Thought 2:
‘S’funny, mouths don’t seem to be designed for hot food, they’re far too sensitive.’

Thought 3:
‘I can’t think of any other animal apart from humans which actually eat hot food. It goes against the laws of nature. We’d still be eating our food raw and cold if we’d never discovered how to make fire.’

Well it does get a bit parky up in the forest of an eveningThought 4:
‘Man couldn’t have been much more than an ape when he accidentally rubbed a couple of sticks together, they burst into flame and, hey presto, barbecued mammoth was suddenly ‘dish of the day’.’

Thought 5:
‘If man was little more than an ape when he figured fire out, what’s to stop some gorilla sitting in the Ugandan rain forest experimenting with his opposable thumbs and a couple of twigs?’

Thought 6:
‘Bloody hell, it’s only a matter of time before a monkey learns how to make a fire!’

And for all we know it might have already happened; there are a lot of unexplained forest fires in the world.