Picking Olives as... Soul Food? ~ Romancing Italy

Nov 18, 2009

Picking Olives as... Soul Food?

Even for sunny Calabria, the light outside seemed too bright for 5:45am, which is when my alarm should have pulled me from my sleep. I glanced over at the clock.

6:15am! I was to meet A’s parents at 6:45 near their olive grove and I needed 20 minutes just driving there!

I rivaled Superman as I shot out of bed, threw on my clothes and lenses, tossed my gloves and tools into the car and hit the road. Thank goodness there was NO ONE on that d*** curvy road and I got there right on time.

For a small town, even on the outskirts, just being a stranger is good enough reason to stare. At least five pairs of eyes focused on the three of us exchanging excited greetings. At the bar, I caught surreptitious glances as the curious listened in to the conversation. And typical of a small town, one man (a complete stranger) paid for our coffees.

The rest of the morning we monkeyed around in the trees and it rained olives. I thought I had an amazing experience last year picking olives, when we fled for cover from a thunderstorm and were holed up in a little aluminum shack with other relatives. Watching them made me realize that happiness doesn’t need expensive props. These people had it in their simple and poor life.

I again felt I’d taken a step into another world when A’s mom broke into song as she worked. She sang her favorites, the music we associate with 50’s Rome, with romance and all things Italian. And I could swear I heard a male voice join in every now and then.

Che fortunata sono!


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