Monday, 26 November 2012

Olive angst ...

The trouble with Olives is that they are hard work ...

Well at least for a month every two years. During the last few weeks I have heard some grumbles about it from ex-pat friends. The romantic notion of having your own oil, being crushed in my mind, like the olives in the press.

I notice many ex-pats this year are falling out of love with the olive, and the hard work required in the collection process. Many are not bothering to pick them, and that I think is rather sad. The ex-pat says its cheaper to buy the oil at the supermarket. The Greek says its a gift from the land, and its his heritage so he must collect it.

I was in the supermarket the other day and two ladies were discussing the olive collection, trimming of the trees and was it worth it apart from the firewood. In the next aisle came a friend from the island. I joked what are you doing here, you should be picking Olives, within a minute he described what he was doing, his curing for food, and when he would collect the Olives.

All with a passion and so eloquently described, that I cannot attempt to capture it here. The other side of the counter did go a little quiet. It seems to me, we love the tree, it looks nice over a drinks glass, as it's leaves change colour during the day. But when the time comes to share its gift, its a passion lost.

Now I do not have any trees, I have not been involved in a collection  other than for my own use. But if I was lucky to own an olive grove, I would make it work for me, come hell or high water. Its part of life on a Greek island, something being lost through neglect of the Olive grove.

Without the care and management, the trees grow wild and do not fruit. Wild trees become targets for wood hunters, and that is a crime. The Olive tree, has to be harvested, and when trimmed, its timbers give you heat in winter ...

However if you have a record breaking year for Olives, then you will also have a record breaking year, for back breaking work. Many hands make light work, but you have to pay for the labour, and feed the team.

If you stick to the task, then in a few days you will be proud of your achievement. You will also have the taste of a golden summer for the next two years, and time to plan on the terrace, how to do it - when its time to do it all again ...

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