November 13, 2017


Our olive trees this year weren’t overflowing, but we did have a respectable batch of beautiful, thumb-size fruit hanging there. No one else had much gumption for harvesting them, so I decided one day that I was going to fill a few baskets myself and bring them to the olive moulin of our village. I climbed up the middle of the trees, their branches low and forked. The olives came loose easily, but after one tree I realized how much work I was in for, and meticulous work too.

Marguerite, Colette, Romy and our au pair came out to join me for a bit. They sang and teased more than they picked and soon I was alone again (not true of our au pair, she helped with a proper basket). I pulled out the ladder to get the high bits. It was physical work - intense. I ended up with 30 kilos in two baskets.

I drove them to the mill. The owners congratulated me on the quality of the olives - said they were beautiful. They told me to dump them into a huge bin of mixed olives. I paused with my baskets. I didn’t really want to mix them with all the others. All of my hard work! They explained that once I had gathered 300 kilos of olives, they would press them separately for us. This time they weigh them, mix them in and give us the cooperative’s mixed oil (made from olives from trees all over our town). I stayed to watch the process as they were pressing some of the olives. They press everything, the pit and all in this rather beautiful and very simple process. Next year: ten times the work and we will have our very own olive oil, de Mondésir.

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