Okay – I can hear you saying, “If she misses Fall so much why doesn’t she just move?” – so this will be the last time I mention it for this year, and anyhow I can now tell you that I know just where to go to get my Autumnal fix next year.
Some days here, October through May, dawn is so incandescently clear it simply makes me want to cry. The heat haze of summer gone for a few months, no Sahara dust hovering in the air, and early enough so that the clouds which encircle the mountains later in the day are still abed. Yesterday was one of those days.
Cristina and I, for different reasons, had missed hiking on Sunday with friends, and since it was her day off yesterday, and I badly needed some fresh air, my sinuses filled with dust from all the pre-removal packing, we decided to head up to Spain’s highest village, Vilaflor (roughly 4,590 ft above sea level), for some fresh, mountain air. We left the south coast as the sun’s rays began to warm the skin, passed through Vilaflor and left the car by the roadside a little higher, at the beginning of the entry road to the Madre de Agua recreational area.
Just stepping out of the car the atmosphere felt different - sights, sounds and the feel of cool air on the face are all a world away from the beaches. Though on the first steps of the walk we could see a landscape still in need of rain, it was nowhere near as parched as the coast. Vilaflor is an agricultural area, and soon we were looking down onto cultivated terraces, and over the tops of pines and hillsides to the ocean. Montaña Roja, which I always think of as marking my home, was clearly visible, and though the countryside was dappled with shadows from passing clouds, the ocean still sparkled way below.
This route would take us through the municipalities of both Granadilla de Abona and Vilaflor, land which is the source of the bottled waters of Tenerife. Right now dried-up streams and water courses mark the route. When the rains come, any time now, they will be in full flow again, and the detritus of summer will be washed away.
What I hadn’t expected was to turn a corner and see Fall colors, yellows and golds clinging to the black skeletons of chestnut trees. I really hadn’t realized that they grew over this side of the mountains. We noted that they aren’t the tall, leafy trees of the northern slopes, but seem stunted, as if deprived of some ingredient to make them grow. Nevertheless, broken shells of chestnuts littered the ground along with the fallen leaves. Clearly there had been fruit, and folk had been here to collect the bounty.
We walked for a couple of tranquil hours, occasionally greeting other walkers, returning or overtaking us. It was good to see that people now realize just how rich this island is in walking routes as well as beaches. We breathed that fresh, energizing scent of pine trees. We stopped and perched in a wee, stone circle to lunch, the sort of place I would have thought of as a fairy meeting place when I was little. I’d made sandwiches of turkey mortadella – well, it was Thanksgiving!
When turning to return, we met the mists which we’d seen drifting through the tall pines, vistas which had been clear were now hazy, and the graceful needles of the Canary pines were strung with droplets of brume, and looked like delicate Christmas decorations. The air now was perfumed with the smell of wild fennel, which reminded me of summer. It must have been aroused by the damp.
The colors of the bare rock faces, which had appeared dry, now glowed, their reds and ochres enriched by the moisture, and I found the last flower in this autumnal scene amongst the dead leaves and grasses.
Now I know where to come when my homesickness for Autumn kicks in.