I don’t know if you have ever seen the flowers on an olive tree, but they are very pretty.
They form lovely cascades and drape the tree branches, thick and luxuriant in a good year, which this seems to be, thankfully.
Following the dreadful fires of a couple of years ago, where we lost 20 or so trees, we seem to have a bumper crop on the way, some 300kg of olives.
This should provide around 40 litres of first press virgin olive oil, which is more than we use in the year and allows for a few little bottles to be given away as presents during the year.
My fingers are crossed that it does not rain too much or become too windy as that could ruin things dramatically.
Olives have been around for millennia and are one of only a few fruits mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Bible, along with dates and figs.
The oil really is good for you and contains vitamin E, which is especially good for the skin.
As it is high in monounsaturated oil, it is a good choice for those wishing to lower cholesterol levels, too.
We are hoping to harvest sometime around the end of October, maybe early November, and will take the fruit to a place not far away, in a village called Espariz, where I expect we will wait with many others until our turn comes.
Our particular village is a very olive-rich place.
The whole village buzzes with life about this time, as younger family members often return to help elderly relatives with the heavy lifting part of the gathering process.
It can be back-breaking work, as there is much stretching, bending, twisting and carrying involved.
One of our neighbours has a nifty device which is strapped to the trunk of an olive tree and the motor is started, with the aid of a pull cord. It throbs and spews out fumes as it throws an off-centre weight around the trunk, which has the effect of shaking the poor tree unmercifully, so that it sheds olives in huge numbers.
Most however, prefer the time-honoured practice of spreading a tarpaulin, taking a long stick and hitting the branches hard.
Olives are then picked up, one at a time and transported in buckets to the flat bed of the battered pick-up truck.
Much time is devoted to stopping and sitting in the olive trees’ shade, whilst enjoying some bread and (of course) olives, cheese and a cooling draught of locally produced wine whilst catching up with news.
It is a day-long family activity and the youngsters are to be seen scampering up the trees to the topmost branches to dislodge the last stubborn fruit as the adults laboriously bend, straighten, bend again, as the sun moves across the sky.
Hopefully, the next few months will literally see our trees bearing fruit.
- Mike Gaunt is a former assistant headmaster at St Christopher’s School, Bahrain – firstname.lastname@example.org