Ilha da Madeira - Island of Wood
11 May 2013
There is a planet called Earth. Close to a middle-aged star, quite big for its kind. Earth has the atmosphere that supports water in all its states. It has got many other conditions right including the help of its Moon and the magnetic shield for a thin layer of life beneath it to exist. This layer is old about 3.8 billion Earth’s years and covers a surface of the entire planet in its entire kaleidoscope of forms including the human part.
Madeira is a 6 km high volcanic island that rises 2 km above the Atlantic some 560 km west of Morocco. I would be tempted to call it gem but then I realise that all Earth is a gem of a value beyond any imagination. A value mostly hidden and certainly not realised, perhaps like the gem in each of us, whether down in dust barely conscious or flying through the wonders of the life in excitement. But she doesn’t need that recognition. It’s she who is offering here, not us. Although this also is a simplification.
Sitting in the Gulf Stream the passing ice ages left its ancient botanical realm unchanged and unique containing the largest area of primaeval laurel forest (laurisilva) that covered large parts of Europe and North Africa from the last third of the Neocene through the Oligocene deep into the Miocene for some 25 million years. The laurel forest archaic species evolved on the Gondwana continent and are still present in suitable biotopes of Earth from Congo, Tasmania, Madagascar to Japan and Macaronesian Islands as a relict and a living memory of our planet’s life.
We spend almost two weeks in the Forest (Gallery I and ll). Mainly in the central and northern half of the island, from the Sea level to the highest peaks of this shield volcano. When I came back to the airport I looked around when passing along and thought I am missing something. Then I turned to Zlatka and said: “Where are the roots?” :-)