The magic of a regenerating forest

There’s a place where I go to receive the morning winds full of energy, where I wander through the mist or sit down to observe the red evening skies and the setting sun.

Here I come to recharge or unwind, to meditate or make music, to be quiet or to scream. It’s my secret place & it’s magical.

But, ever since this area burned down last summer, I now walk the ground with mixed feelings. Some trees still stand tall, but it’s only the bare skeleton. The leaves are burned and the bark has fallen off. The magic has gone.


Rather than avoiding the place, I keep coming back. The way nature regenerates sparks my interest. I want to see and observe this process and learn from it. It’s ever-inspiring.

One morning, after a few good ‘ol Galician showers I couldn’t believe my eyes as I walked the hill. The charred black ground had turned into a bright purple sea of flowers. The magic had returned.

Croci popping up from the black ground like magic

Magic /ˈmadʒɪk/ (noun)

An extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

Whilst I was so focused on the visual impact of the fire I forgot to pay attention to the magic happening below my feet. Once again I was reminded that it indeed all starts with the soil. I was super surprised to see the crocus bulbs survived the intense fires. I know soil regulates the temperature, but I never imagined it was so efficient in doing so.

As I walked a little further I started to notice patches of orange mixed into the black landscape. They happen to be fire loving fungi. ‘Anthracobia muelleri’ to be more precise. These fungi appear after a fire and play an important role in the regeneration of the woods.

Ingenious trees

As the croci were flowering happily and the fungi feasting on the fallen branches, the trees worked their wonders as well.

The oak is considered sacred in the Celtic culture and it’s a joy to see the new growth. Dormant buds that remained protected underground are now sprouting extra fast thanks to the nutrients that are stored in the extensive root system of the oaks.

The ‘Carballos’ are by far the favourite tree in Galicia, but favourites aside one can not ignore the tall pine trees. Just like the oaks, they have adapted to withstand wildfires. Despite — or maybe thanks to — several wildfires there are some ancient ones in our town. As they grow big and tall they drop their lower branches so the flames can’t reach the canopy whilst the thick bark protects the core from the heat.

Thick protecting pine bark

The real magic is hidden in the cones though. Most trees and plants drop their fruits when the seeds mature, but the clever pine holds on to its cones until they’re needed. These ‘serotinous cones‘ are clued to the tree with resin and only once there’s a fire this resin will melt and the seeds will drop.

And then we have the eucalyptus trees. It is said that a Galician Benedict Monk brought some seeds back after a mission in Australia in the late 18th century. It was, however, after the civil war that the eucalyptus gain popularity due to the need for timber and cellulose. The falling of old-grown forests to plant eucalyptus trees has even been subsidized for a while. Luckily this is now unthinkable.

Even though they are non-native I love the eucalyptus trees. They smell lovely and grow to be beautiful giants. Being native to Australia, no wonder they are well-adapted to fire. Nicely protected under the bark the epicormic buds only sprout after the canopy has been damaged by the fire.


Seeing the way nature has evolved from and with wildfires it can’t be all bad. Some plants and trees even rely on fire for reproduction and snag forests promote biodiversity. Fires are undoubtedly a natural occurrence. Sadly, humans have taken a slight step aside from the evolutionary path of nature which is causing some disturbance. Fires are now more frequent and more intense. Ironically this is partially due to fire suppression.

Forests have been around on the earth way before us, and in comparison to them, we are little kids. And, just like kids, we make mistakes and have to learn from them. We have made a mess, and now we have to clean it up.

Of course, I can’t tackle 65 acres by myself, I need a community. Oh, how much would I love to go out with all the neighbours and plant native trees. Now the understory has been cleared of invasive species it’s the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, I am not the kind of person that is great at gathering groups people. I am more of a quiet observer and an individual doer. When someone comes to me with interest I will overload them with enthusiasm and information, but never will I be the person that organizes an event.

And that’s okay.

We can’t be and the Magician and the Ruler, the Explorer and the Everyman, but together as a community we are all we need to fix our mistakes.


Magic requires movement and to get things moving we need action. I don’t know too many people in the region yet, but little by little I start to connect with the right people. Who knows, by the time of next spring I find myself planting trees with a bunch of great individuals working together as one.

And if not, I’ll start alone. One tree at a time.

‘Till next time lovelies!

2 thoughts on “The magic of a regenerating forest

    1. It’s a rather ‘hot topic’ and I’m glad to have a first-hand experience. Commun beliefs are not always correct and the media, well they’ll only show the side that sells.

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