I wanted to go olive picking ever since I first received orders to Sicily. And today was that day. Trenton and I bundled up in our olive picking clothes and I in a knock-off Burberry scarf and drove the hour and twenty minutes to a little town called Mineo.
We followed a few other families from base (about 20 of us all together) and caravanned to this beautiful little orchard on a little mound near the foothills of Mineo. We jumped out of our cars and wandered through the orchard. Tree after tree after tree. But there were three trees standing smartly, their olives dark and pump for the picking–statuesque as if they were waiting just for us.
Emilio, our guide, taught us several different ways to pick olives.
First, he had a long rakey thing that shook and vibrated and he PROMISED us it didn’t hurt the tree, but I swear I saw the little olive tree shudder when the rake came near it. I didn’t like the rake thing. The second option was to take these big long sticks and thwack the tree branches so that all the olives were so scared they jumped from the tree and onto the mesh sheets underneath. No thank you, big stick. And the last, and of course my favorite, was to hand pick each one, thank the tree, and toss them lightly into the bucket below. I added the thanking the tree part, but I think you knew that, Reader.
And so, we spent the next two hours picking and plucking and plopping and pruning and I loved every second of it.
Once we were finished, we compiled all the little olives into crates to go to the Oil Making Place. I don’t know what it’s called. I had a few vinos at that point, but I’m pretty sure he explained it.
Then, we gathered for a meal together at Emilio’s. Fresh tomatoey bruschetta, thinly sliced meats, steaming bowls of pasta, pulled-from-the-grill hand-stuffed sausages, salad, and a whole tray of dessert breads. Below is our view from lunch.