Monday, November 19, 2012

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Sometimes I cannot believe how lucky my life feels. This weekend was a glorious one. Four of my artist friends joined me in a little trip to the countryside in Tuscany, not too far from Florence, Italy. It is the time of la raccolta delle olive (olive harvest). The women stayed for only a short time, drawing the fields before returning to Firenze. The other two artists stayed to pick olives before we broke for lunch. Here are two shots I took not far from the house – Giovanni (left) is the nephew of the landlady. I found it interesting that they use parachutes for the olive-catching nets sometimes. They love them because they are so lightweight. Good use for a spent ‘chute, I would say!

Down in the campo (field), we saw the mascot in the truck with farmer Renato making his way over to greet us. Next is a shot I took of Irish artist Brian Smyth as he was working. I must say that the day was beautiful, the light gorgeous! Nets or parachutes were pulled to a neighboring tree and then a group of us would set to work removing olives. Some of us used just our hands; others had rakes and clever tools for pulling the fruit from the more distant branches.

Renato is the owner of the field, with his 78-year-old bride Giuliana. Renato turned 90 two days before I gained 48 years this summer. He and Giuliana met when she was a teenager after Renato went to another town some kilometers away and saw her during la passeggiata. It is a lovely story and they have a beautiful family life going on in Tuscany. Here Brian caught me giving Renato a thank you kiss.

These next images are beauts, if I may be so immodest. Sergio has so much character built-into his figure that I could not help but photograph him in his work. Then Roberto helps Giuliana move a net. And shortly after that, the net is in place. Roberto is from Santa Margherita Liguria, along the Italian Riveriera Coast. I joked with him that this is a different kind of fishing. Is the light not amazing?

After lunch Roberto, Brian and I took a walk up into the colline (hills). We saw a snake and were trying to entice him off of the road, but then realized that he was moving in vain. He had already been run over by some vehicle and his spine was crushed in parts. He was dead by the time we passed him on our way back. Horrible. However, we also saw horses, a sign for a neighbor who lost a pet pig, and -- further up into the woods than I had ever gone before -- some of the human locals. They were hunting (and finding) mushrooms and specific green leaves for tasty salads. It was fun speaking with them about various plants, including some red berries that look a little like strawberry, but grow on taller bushes and are safe to eat. I must say that the smell of the damp earth after the recent rains and the feel of the stones and dirt under my feet was the medicine I have been craving lately.

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