I finally pressed my own olives. I’ve been harvesting our olives, all eleven trees, for the last three years; ever since I realized that we had our own olive trees. These trees were planted almost 100 years ago by my maternal grand parents after the vineyard contracted some bug that destroyed all the grapevines.
My olive picking skills have improved dramatically over the few years. This year, I managed to climb to the top of the tree to grab the bounty of olives nestled at the tip. I also learned to look over the tree from every angle. It may seem that you got all the olives, but then you look at a branch from another angle, and all of a sudden, you find a bunch more olives waiting to be picked.
All olives are picked by hand. Any other method, such as hitting the olives, will bruise the olive. When there is a bunch on one branch, I simply slide my fingers down the branch plucking off the olives.
Given only eleven trees, my harvest is modest. And the oil press in old Ramallah requires a minimum weight in order to press your olives. I have never had the required minimum weight. The owner always made me trade my olives for oil from someone else’s olives. Those are the rules. But this year was a good season for my eleven trees. I didn’t care if my harvest reached the minimum required weight. I wanted to press my own olives. To drink the olive oil produced from my soil. To enjoy my grandparents’ gift.
I visited the olive press Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t packed with customers. It was still very early in the olive-harvesting season. And the big Eid Adha holiday was just ending. I had picked my olives early in the season taking advantage of my days off for the holiday. I approached the olive press owner explaining that I harvested my olives. I told him that I thought that I had two bags full, and I wanted to know if he would let me press them. I told him that he had been taking my olives for the last couple of years. But this year, I had a good harvest. And I wanted my own olive oil from my own olives from my soil, planted by my grandparents nearly 100 years ago. I looked him straight in the eye as I spoke. Less than 2 seconds after my diatribe, he agreed. He told me to bring my olives NOW for pressing.
I was ecstatic. I was going to press my own olives. And I think I learned the secret for future years. My lesson learned: Harvest early and press your olives before the masses. Olive press owner guy is much nicer when customers are few.
As I watched my olives press and convert to a fresh green oil, I felt gratitude for the blessing of the land of Palestine and my grandparents vision and gift for us who followed. I filled a cup with the freshly pressed oil as it poured. It was warm and earthy. It tasted like fresh green. There was a mild burn in the back of my throat.
I finally got to taste my own olive oil.