Imagine, it is a cool, November morning, you are standing among the olive trees, on a hillside in Northern Italy. The dew is still thick on the ground, the air smells like fall, heavy with the scent of wet earth and wet leaves. The morning fog is just giving way to a bright blue sky. The branches of the olive trees are laden with beautiful black and green orbs. There is a steady flow of lyrical conversation as friends, family, the old, the young, and everyone in between have gathered together to help with this year's harvest....
Confession....I love to pick olives. There is just something about it that is timeless and gives a sense of deep connectedness to both nature and civilization. This was our 7th olive season in Italy. I have had the great fortune of helping every year, but one. This year may have been my favorite. My Italian, though not great, is good enough for me to participate, at least a little, in conversations now, unless of course they are in dialect, then there is no hope for me. This year the children were old enough to be independent and help and/or play has needed, so this year I took to the high branches.
Olive trees are pruned so they are very easy to climb. There is nothing that makes you feel young, like climbing a tree...even trees that are not so high. From the tree tops, there is an amazing view of the neighboring hills and during the moments the bells are ringing...it is amazing! Now, add to this scene the rising voices of people singing who have gathered together for a special Mass, on the 2nd of November, in the cemetery, just 200 meters just down the hill....simply awe-inspiring.
It was a very good olive year this year! Once picked the olives get carted off to a community olive press to be made into oil. If you are interested in the olive oil process, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting a press two years ago and read about the experience here...Olive Oil.