This may seem like an odd fascination but I’m finding that olive trees and the fruit they bear have become ever increasingly meaningful in my life. I’ve paused in writing this post a number of times because I wasn’t sure why I identify so much with this lovely, salty evergreen, but then realized that in order to understand better, I simply needed to write it down.
I’ll start by stating the obvious. Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean, a region of the world where, if I believed in past lives, I would say I must’ve spent significant, special time. In the here and now, once I finally placed these feet on Greek soil, it was as if those gentle, silvery creatures were waving and welcoming me home again. And while in Greece, it was olive branches, gently twisted with white roses and bound with braided fabric strips from my gown, that were the only thing I wanted to carry in our happy, grown-up wedding. I saved it, gently dried and hanging in a special part of our home. I still find it curious that both the wedding planner and florist considered my flower choice unusual. Regardless, I noticed many a Heliotopos bride after me carrying a version of my own bouquet.
And certainly while traipsing this part of the world, olive trees were everywhere we turned. I carry with me a couple of favorite images, the first being the beach in Rhodes lined with olive trees where we spent our first few days as newly marrieds – definitely a different landscape then the palm tree- lined beaches we’re accustomed to in the U.S. My heart experienced a lift and lightness every time I passed through the olive groves to reach the bordering sands. My other happy memory is when we were looking down on a sea of those sweet, silver green trees from the peak of Mycenae, their color accentuated by the equally abundant orange groves. The windswept Mycenae acropolis surely permanently wears an amazing olive and orange fragrance across its face that I wanted desperately to bottle and bring home.
So clearly I identify the olive tree with a trip of a lifetime. But is there something more to it? Olive oil is almost exclusively the only oil used to cook in our home. Imagine my elation when one of the emerging olive oil and balsamic vinegar franchise companies launched a little store around the corner from our house. This opened a whole new world of flavors and variations not the least of which is blood orange olive oil – delish in brownies that are almost constantly popping from the oven. Upon writing this, I’m thinking I should start referring to them as Brownie Mycenae.
For good reason, the olive tree is the symbol for life, hope, wisdom, victory and of course peace. It’s called the Tree of Eternity because it’s both resistant to decay and has the amazing ability to regenerate – this an obvious connection to my lucky number 8. After 150 years of olive production, the tree begins to slow down until reaching the age of 200. At that point the cap dies leaving the roots and trunk base. The base produces sprouts, regenerates and begins life all over again. So many stories these trees would tell if they offered more than a gentle whisper in the wind.