Nov 292010

Its been one of those days of learning. Starting with sun on a sprinkling of snow. I devoted myself to the maquette of Hendrijke Stoffels which fills me with enthusiasm, the drawing is so superb (I write about it in part 6 of the Getty crit).
It was too cold to sit out in the conservatory as I usually do when the weather is fine but I noticed the sun streaming through the glass double doors in the hall, so I sat there for lunch. It was really warm though the lemon trees were not giving off that perfume that Goethe loved. Too early in the year I guess, there were lemons of every size up to nearly mature and also a few tiny flower buds.

Because the final lighting can only be controlled artificially on the maquette, I got to the point by 3pm that I needed to wait till dark to continue. So I went out for a walk two hours before my normal time. It was a revelation: instead of a fairly solitary time as usual. I had a number of refreshing human encounters. The most interesting for olive growers was two men harvesting olives with delightfully quiet machines. The first I had seen, though I gather they are a few years old. A crown of 5 or 6 plastic spikes, about 40cm long,  rotate on a tubular handle of more than 2m. It runs off a car battery. This simple and gentle device knocks the olive to the ground where they are collected in a net. No dangerous ladders are involved, or fretting of the hands.

Olive Harvesting machine

Olive Harvesting machine

Olive growing is now a labour of love. The price of the oil does not begin to cover the cost of pruning, harrowing or mowing, harvesting and pressing but it does provide a delicious, nutritious accompaniment to salads etc. Furthermore it can be stored away in a bottle for when the going gets hard in winter. “Ripe for the Picking” by Annie Hawes is a book which knocks home the importance of this aspect of the olive to the earlier peasantry, it is also a very funny book.

I have started a “Reasons for Rejoicing” series on Facebook. A much needed offering as we face the prospect of a double dip in the economy. My first offering is – The Pope, God Bless him, has taken one tiny step away from dogma, towards common sense. Tomorrows will be – Contraception is allowable to stop the spread of HIV, wow! There’s progress.

2 Responses to “A winter day at Verrocchio”

  1. nkonstam says:

    Thanks |Milly, sorry I took so long to see your comment!

  2. Milly says:

    what a wonderful thought of you on your quiet walk around the olive groves. Another book you must read is Carol Drinkwater on the history of the Olive. It is beautifully written and facinating. I can’t imagine why they took so long to invent such a machine. Perhaps it is due to the fact that those who grow olives are aware of the historical way of doing things and don’t like to tamper. Longing to hear all about life with you and will continue to read your blog. How lovely that the sun even shines in November with some heat. with much love xx

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