Olives are being harvested in the fields outside my town these days. We have been having the first rains of the season. The roads are wet and muddy, and the trees are partially shrouded in mist. The fields are spread with black plastic nets, and people are hard at work, the men hitting the trees to make the olives fall, and the women picking up the olives from the nets. The harvest will continue throughout the winter.
The olive press is busy. Cars and trucks come and go, unloading heavy bags filled with olives. These days the bags are white, made of sturdy woven plastic. In Crete this fall several of us bought canvas olive bags, hand-woven by women. These, along with baskets hand-woven by men, were still in use only a few decades ago.
A friend who died a few years ago told me that “in the old days” there were no…
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