One of the loveliest things about living in the country is how everyone shares at harvest time. Whenever we meet up with friends it seems that we never arrive or leave without arms laden with tomatoes, jars of preserves, just-picked fruit, a loaf of bread, or a bottle of homemade grog.
It’s such a friendly way to live and I love it.
This week a kind friend of ours told us his olives were just beginning to ripen and we’d better hurry in for a harvest before the birds snitched them all.
We were delighted to oblige.
There’s something quite peaceful about harvesting.
At first everything’s a bit of a blur as you unpack buckets and containers, affix hats and boots, lug the ladder into place, and climb up the rungs hoping you don’t topple off.
But then you start to pick and the whirling world begins to slow down and slides into the gentle rhythm of pick, drop, pick, drop.
The morning sunshine was deliciously warm and the wind sighed softly through the olive branches as we steadily picked. We caught ourselves grinning when we spotted a particularly productive branch dripping with fat, dark olives. It’s like finding treasure!
Bear rigged up a clever picking system for us. Rather than hauling around cumbersome buckets that are easily kicked over, he strung lengths of string through holes in old ice cream buckets and hung them around our necks. This left our hands free for picking olives, pulling down branches, and stabilizing ourselves when the ladder would go wobbly. He even made the straps adjustable so we could arrange them to suit ourselves. He’s a clever fella.
They worked brilliantly, and seemed to be magnets for falling olives that would otherwise have tumbled to the ground and disappeared into the undergrowth.
It was gorgeous out there, the sort of Autumn morning you dream of all Summer long: sumptuously warm yet with a nip in the air that reminds you Winter is coming.
We took turns climbing the ladder and scrabbling around under low-hanging branches to find ripe olives, nabbing a few not-so-ripe ones along the way. I just love the colors, so rich and earthy, like wine and plums and grapes and shadows.
Neither of us have cured olives before, so we’re rather excited to see how they turn out. We’ll be following a Greek process, soaking them in fresh salt water daily for 10-12 days before marinating them with garlic, lemon zest, dill, and whatever other things we come up with.
I’ll let you know how they turn out.
Now I must finish my tea and head to the market. I have a serious Mexican food craving and need to pick up some oranges to make carnitas.
Are you an olive fan? If so, what is your favorite way to eat them? xo