I was born in Australia to Syrian immigrants, and at around the age of 10, my father decided to go back to Syria and live there for 3 months but we stayed there for 18 months.
We regularly went and stayed in the village at my grandfather’s house, I noticed there were the same trees everywhere we went, my mum said they were olive trees.
In late winter/early spring my grandfather would plough the soil around the olives, and they would grow wheat around the olive trees. In late spring the wheat is a gorgeous green, and a golden glow in summer. The wheat growing around the olive trees blowing in the wind is a memory etched in my mind forever.
Harvesting of the olives meant that every family member and some community members would gather to harvest the fruit. My grandfather had an olive press on one of his blocks, but to use the press he needed the community.
They would take turns at processing each families olives into olive oil. I vividly remember donkeys and bulls tied to a mast walking in circles pushing a huge granite wheel, and these big men would collect the ground olive paste and fill them into hessian bags and tie the ends. They would stack them on top of each other and wind a platform connected to a corkscrew like centre mast, and they would squeeze the liquid out. The liquid would run down a little gutter and spill out in to 2 openings, one for the water the other for the oil.
The oil was a golden green colour that was murky and we would dip fresh baked bread into it, and the taste was amazing.