I’ll start this report in the daytime, when we were bathed in sunshine at the lunchtable yesterday. Not all of us were there, Aldo was still stuck up a ladder combing out olives. He only comes to the house for brief snatched moments, not wanting to waste time. Nor were we all happy in the sunshine.
“Why, oh why, does the sun have to do this?” Jasper glowered at me over his pasta. Apparently he is made for northern climes, countries with many more hours of darkness and nicely reliable bad weather all winter long. Some of us think this may be connected to impossibility of sending teenagers out into lashing rain to help harvest olives but he says his poetic teenage soul thrives on darkness and cloudy skies.
To get back the harvest. First a quick image of our olives waiting outside the olive press.We always go to the olive press in the dark (the daylight hours are too precious to waste) sometimes arriving as late as midnight, driving through quiet deserted country roads and into the village where all sensible people are asleep. Cars, tractors and trucks are parked higgledy piggledy outside the humming press and inside the air is saturated with oil. Flattened out cardboard boxes line the floor to prevent us from slipping and men in heavy jackets, flat caps and scarves, stand around with their hands in their pockets discussing the yield. There is usually an elderly lady in a pinny somewhere (one of the owner’s aunts or mother) with a broom, doing some important tweaking.People moan a lot about their olives, muttering about chain saws and firewood and lives without hard labour, but year after year the olive harvest dominates the autumn. Aldo has despaired of our trees this year, the difficulty of getting olives out of them and their poor yield, but he is determined to do a fourth pressing. Despite the lack of relationship between the value of oil and the time lavished on its production we all keep doing it. That first taste, poured on a slice of bruschetta, with a little salt on top, makes it all worth it.