The perfume of oil

We always enjoy speaking to the elderly, and learning how olives used to be harvested. We can easily appreciate the hard work involved. Gathering olives always requires patience and a pinch of “rural” calmness… the calm you need when bad weather prevents you from working in the fields, the patience imposed by the plant, with its contorted form, intricate branches and rich canopy concealing its harvest of olives. You need a good deal of dexterity to climb up the trees and keep your balance, since these trees often grow on uneven ground or clamber up stone walls. You need time, even when using more modern equipment, which simply consists of harvesting rakes or trunk shakers. The olives fall onto large nets that must then be folded and collected. In the past, all this work was done manually, and the workers, having a sack tied to their belt, had to be careful not to let the olives fall to the ground. It is impossible to describe the perfume, the scent enveloping you when you are immersed in the tree’s canopy or you lift the nets. It is the same scent that pervades the air of the oil mill, that clings to your clothes, an inebriating scent that makes you forget the hard work of the day and fills you with joy.

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