December 31, 2020 by D.Fathia
Green olives? Where to find it? What to admire?
September is the first month of fall. Step outside all housing confinements and you will smell the scent of rain in the air; a good sign for farmers as it foreshadows a fertile season and an abundance in crops. Under the blue clear or occasionally cloudy sky, a multitude of heavenly marvelous scenery unfolds. Choose an early morning hour or a late around a dusk hour and take a walk on foot. It is a journey that cannot be described wholeheartedly. Imagine yourself wandering alone surrounded by quietness and invited by nature for a splendid reunion. Nature does not need to work its magic to lure you in, nature is in itself appealing. If you have the soul of a dreamer, the mind of an empath, and the heart of an introvert you will be drawn to this promising adventure. But if you are other than this you can explore the hidden beauties and you will never regret it. With few once in a while raindrops to wash away the tiredness off your body and soul, journeying in the open green olive fields is certainly rewarding.
Life forces serenity out of us. With boring routines and shabby lifeless fronts everywhere, some change once in a while is a crucial necessity. Long walks in green olive gardens are the optimal treatment. Looking for a perfect destination? How about the green olive orchards?
Tunisian green olive farms sweep hundreds of acres of land. You can walk all alone for hours before you come across any living being, except for wild animals like either dogs or rabbits in the deep South. It is the one place where you can leave behind stress, noise, and any kind of disturbance. Nearly isolated from human gatherings, these olive farms are pollution-free heaven on earth. Hence it is the perfect environment; a combination of fresh pure air, amazing shade, and awe-inspiring evergreen trees! Can you ask for more?
Olive cultivation in Tunisia goes back to the early civilizations settling in the Mediterranean basin. Growing in number from the Carthaginian era onward, olive trees are now estimated around one hundred million spread on fifty-nine percent of the land. Although climate shifts occur from one region to another, green olives can be spotted on all geographical districts from the north till the desert-like far south across the fertile coast.
Stories behind the green olives
Mahmud Darwich, the famous Palestinian poet, wrote praising olives: “if olives could remember who planted them, the oil will transform to tears”! Both an elegy and a celebration, this eternal line speaks of olives as the sole recorder of history and bearer of collective memory.
It tells a story about the unexplainable bond between the green olive tree and mankind. A life-giver, a symbol of peace, and a lasting companion of man, the olive tree is truly a miracle.
On the mountain cliffs and between valleys of the northwestern cities of Tunisia, people inherited not only formidable trees but also a part of their identity and dignity. The city of Siliana used to witness an annual festival announcing the beginning of the harvest season. This traditional celebration emphasizes the importance of olives to the life of these people and adds a sacred aura to this tree.
One significant story from the depths of these rural areas speaks of an old wedding custom; brides choose a certain tree and ask for blessings and fertility. This shows how deep people’s belief in the sacredness of the beautiful green olives is. Furthermore, the elderly do believe that abundance in harvest indicates prosperity and happiness, while a poor crop foreshadows God’s anger and coming misery. It is no wonder that olive oil is labeled the yellow gold in these areas!
An anthropological mystery links people to this tree. Both of their lives are intertwined in a way that can never be understood. They both have the strength to resist the harsh climate and rugged land. Indeed, our green olives are not a mere part of our identity, they do form our identity. Planted by Hannibal and his soldiers, these tree orchards absorbed our history with every single drop of oil and kept hidden in its roots the secrets to our survival and existence. Tunisia is the gift of the olive tree.
Mythology has great reverence for this evergreen long-living tree. The leaves and branches were made into crowns to celebrate the Olympic heroes, while oil burnt all night long in the temples and resided over their tables. Religion as well reserved a front line place for olives among the plants. It is pictured as a symbol of hope and safety, pointing towards a safe harbor for Noah.
Cultivating olive trees is a spiritual act of seeking harmony with Mother Nature and grounding oneself into the land. With a standing history in the Mediterranean area, this plant enjoys great influence over the lives of the inhabitants. From there, traveled the green olives and olive oil recipes and gained an outstanding reputation in international cuisines and medicine.