Day in the Olive Groves: Virgin Olive-Harvester No More!
Guest Post: Gayle Padgett Smith
This article was written by Gayle Padgett Smith the author of Passion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie. She shares that she is no longer a virgin to the olivade (olive harvest) St. Remy de Provence.”
Mother Nature adores olives. At least she did the day of my very first olive harvest in late October near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Mme N halted the horrendous mistral winds of the previous day and summoned a deep blue sky and warm sunbeams that transformed a drab olive grove into a shimmering fantasyland.
But this wasn’t playtime. My husband, Ralph, and I were worker bees reporting for duty—to help a friend bring in the precious fruit. Decked out in long sleeves and gardening gloves—for protection from scratchy twigs—we stood at attention in front of our commanding olive officer to receive our marching orders. Extensive they weren’t. “See those rakes over there?” she asked. “Grab ‘em and go!”
The lightweight rakes had sturdy, yellow plastic tines connected to a twenty-inch-long wooden shaft. We joined a group, which included helpful, tree-climbing youngsters, already raking away. Ralph was experienced and dove right in, but I proceeded cautiously. By gently pulling the instrument down a branch, the olives popped off and bounced onto the net, carefully stretched out around the tree trunk. Easy-peasy. Soon I was raking with abandon!
After a few hours of this harvest workout, moving from tree to tree, lunch was announced. We gathered up the last net and poured the fruits of our labor into buckets and crates. Satisfied with the heaping mélange—some plump and smooth in shades of eggplant and moss; others tiny, wrinkled and black—I said to Ralph, “Not too shabby for a newbie.” In reply, he gave me a two-thumbs-up to recognize my just-earned veteran olive-picker status.
Turns out olive-picking is second nature for me. Maybe it is for you, too. Perhaps next season, Provence will tempt you to take up the rake.
Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of Gayle Padgett
More by Gayle Padgett
Beyond Vin at the Saint Rémy de Provence Fête du Vin – Find out if this just another typical Friday night in this lovely town in the Alpilles.
Discover why Gayle and her husband chose Provence for their retirement home. A story of two American expats with a love for the lifestyle in the South of France.
Her book took a while to complete, but this is why you should keep notes. How Journaling leads to Passion for Provence: 22 Keys to La Belle Vie.
Available through Amazon or any book vendor:
If Gayle’s day in the olive groves sounds like fun, why not gather some friends together (there is room for 8-10) for a gourmet weekend in the olive groves? Read more about a Fall Weekend Gourmet Getaway in the Olives in Provence.