Thursday, November 22, 2012

Olive Harvest IV Tuscany Italy Thanksgiving


Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Today is the American holiday of giving thanks. There are enough ex-pats here in Firenze, Italia, that tonight will be my second American-style holiday meal. It kills me. I have a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving. Of course, I enjoy the family and friends getting together part. I have had great holidays, and so-so holidays. (‘So-so’ usually means alone. As much as I enjoy being by myself, the holidays are not the best time to be scheduling that.) But the part I really have never adapted to is that no matter how much self-control I try to exhibit, I always end up eating far more than makes me feel good.

I have been sharing with you on recent posts my excursion into the countryside of Tuscany for the annual olive harvest. It was a glorious weekend that I am never likely to forget. I enjoy being outside most of the time and I must be around trees in order to keep my sanity. Some people think that is weird, but I think that NEEDING to have coffee every day is weird. To each their own . . .

But seriously, while picking olives, Viola invited us to stay for dinner with the family and other friends who were helping pick olives from the trees in Renato and Giuliana’s field. We were a decent-sized group and I never cease to be amazed when people prepare food, especially for a lot of people at once. “Volentieri” I replied! They had new oil, lots of vegetables to dunk into the oil, and then the courses began. . . oh, my. And it seemed that each new dish was more fun than the previous.

The wine flowed and the conversation at the table was lively and fun. Roberto was charmed when 10-year-old Marco asked his 90-year-old grandfather Renato where he had put his teeth and Renato said, “I keep them in the bedroom!” I am still learning Italian and also some of the slang and dialects. It was lovely to have an Italian friend with me who speaks English quite well. I missed fewer jokes that evening.

By the time the calcio (soccer) game came on the tele, we were pretty tipsy. [It was a good game to watch and the Florentine team won. I admit that I did enjoy it, especially the cheering and hugging at the table. Forza Viola! Purple is the color for the Florentine team.] However, after dinner came dessert, including the sweet liquor Vin Santo with biscotti and chocolate. Grappa followed, but this time I refrained. I was enjoying my buzz as it wuzz, thank you very much.

After helping Giuliana and Daniela wash and dry the dishes near a warm fireplace in the kitchen, I saw that Giuliana had passed around her copy of my book, “My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy” for friends to see. That would never have occurred to me to do and I was touched that she thought of it. [This book makes a great gift, and, if interested, click on the title and you may order it from Amazon in several different countries.]

Today, I am sending you the last of the series of my wonderful weekend with the olive trees and the locals. We picked and gathered the olives and then loaded the cassettes into the tiny truck. The olives were moved to a shelter near the house and for good reason: It rained the next day. One cannot pick wet olives because they will start to mold before you could press them. Next time I go back, Renato said they would show me where the pressing happens, if the harvest has been completed that is. I will be returning soon… If you are hungry for more images, check out my photo album “Italian Scenics” on Facebook. Thank you so much for joining my journey and for your support and interest in my art work and the work of my maestro and friend Vasily Fedorouk.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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