I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain,
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end…
On Sunday I arrived back in Tenerife with my students for our annual field course. This is now my 14th trip to the island and James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain provides an apt soundtrack to some of what we’ve seen during our current stay on Darwin’s Unrequited Isle.
When we were here in 2013 the pine forest on the slopes south of Las Cañadas looked black and bare, having burned a few months previously:
Trunks of the endemic Canary Island Pine Tree (Pinus canariensis) were blackened and showed very little foliage:
That was April 2013. Twelve months later, following one of the wettest winters that Tenerife has experienced, we were greeted with a sight of rejuvenation. The pine trees are re-sprouting and the landscape is full of colour as plants such as Erysimum scoparium, Echium wildpretii and Argyranthemum tenerifae flower in abundance. There are also more butterflies that I can previously recall seeing in these habitats:
James Taylor’s song is about loss and grief; but from fire and rain also comes new life and new beginnings, a positive environmental stimulus for the endemic biodiversity of Tenerife. The fire has opened up the vegetation, allowing seeds to germinate, and the winter rain has stimulated growth and flowering in these summer-drought habitats.
….I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I’d see you again.