by cheri sabraw
The olive tree has been growing on earth for 6000-7000 years. It is believed to have first sprouted in Persia and Mesopotamia (the Fertile Crescent), soon finding firm and fertile ground in what is today’s modern Syria and Israel. In the 18th century, Spanish missionaries brought olive trees to California where the plants thrived in the rich and rugged California dirt and temperate climate.
The olive and its oil have been the subjects of ancient Persian, Jewish, Egyptian, Greek, Christian, and Roman rituals. Even King Tut enjoyed olive oil! We know this because olive branches were found in his tomb.
The olive branch has long stood for peace, hope, and reconciliation. It was an olive leaf that the dove carried over sand and surf in her beak, dropping it into Noah’s hand, signaling the end of the Flood.
At the TK Rancho, we have no doves and definitely no flood but we do boast a flock of 100 wild turkeys, a yellow Labrador retriever, a patient man, and a semi-patient woman.
Thus, we approach our first olive harvest with anticipation.
After engaging in an all-out war with the olive fruit fly during the past four years and losing, we sprayed Danitol three times this summer. It did the trick. We are one week away from harvest.
Thirty people–from our grandchildren to our friends and family–will converge to pick the arbequina, maurino, leccino, and frantoio olives from the security of their silvery grey-green branches.
Three Italian varietals and a Spanish one will roll around with each other for the first time in an intimate blend before traveling up the driveway to meet their own fate at the press.
Solomon himself will be pressing his olives.
With luck, the elixir of life will begin to drip into the fusti jars and shortly thereafter, we all will sample the oil with wine, bread, and pasta.
L’ Chaim! To Life!