It was only last Sunday that Portugal saw yet another wave of wildfires spreading across the country. A total of 523 occurences were registered, mainly in the centre and north regions of the country, making this Portugal’s “worst day of the year” for fires. The conditions were worsened by Hurricane Ophelia, as it approached Europe’s western coast, bringing strong winds to fan and spread the flames.
On Monday, we found out one of the wildfires, in Vieira de Leiria, had destroyed about 80% of the Pinhal de Leiria, a 700-year-old pine forest which is part of Leiria’s identity. Leiria is my hometown, and I very much cherished that forest. It was the background to many of my memories growing up.
The news about the forest was something that really brought me down. I felt upset, making it difficult to stay productive and motivated regarding my work. However, it came to me that I could use these recent events in my project to make it even more personal. Perhaps I could try to pay a tribute to the forest and what was lost in the fire.
As an example, here is an image made by graphic designer João Diogo, just after the news broke. It reflects the destruction of the pine forest and its connection to D. Dinis, the king who originally decided to plant it.