October 14, 2013
Ponies a-prancin’; olives a-dancin’.
That’s how it is this time of year in Sicily.
You can do it by hand.
Or use a big red comb.
Or a motorized gadget, sort of like a fan on a heavy long pole.
Olives bounce everywhere, along with an avalanche of twigs and leaves.
“Could we do this?” I ask the olive pickers, pointing to Diana (whose trees these are) and myself.
They laugh at the idea. “You have to be strong, signora.” They flex their muscles, just in case we don’t get it.
The men wrestle the whole back-breaking mess into the tractor and hurry to the olive press, which is heavy with the scent of hot sun and bitter soil. Total haul: 570 kilos of olives.
Nearly three hours later, after the olives are washed and thrashed and mashed and milled, out gushes the good stuff, a thick ribbon of green velvet.
We sip it from paper cups and taste all of Sicily: it’s like fresh-cut country grass still wet with morning dew, squeezed with sweet lemons and spattered with peppercorns.