Olive picking in Qira

Michal R., and Galia W., (reporting) in a private car

Our second olive picking event at Qira with N.'s family. After a forced intermission because of the stormy weather of last week, we arrived last Tuesday at another plot of the family in a different part of the village. This time it was "a long working day" – we worked with everybody until darkness nearly fell, around five o'clock. The procedure is the same: One spreads the sheet, "milks" the tree, empties its yield to the sack, moves to the next tree, and so on and so forth. It is hard physical work and seemingly monotonous. But in spite of that, beyond the help there is magic here too. What is the secret of the magic?  Perhaps the joint labour in the open air. A remedy for the cynical urban psyche. An instructive lesson in cooperation, a reminder of the power of earth and the wonders of vegetation. And also: the beautiful primeval plantation (there was an argument between the uncle and one of the brothers concerning the age of the trees – one said 300 years, the other insisted on a thousand…), the wondrous consideration of each tree's singular character: one is laden with clusters, one is dotted with single olives here and there; one had sparse foliage, and almost reaches out to give us the olives into our hand, the other conceals the crop in a dense thicket of leaves and branches. And the sound the olives make when they drop softly unto the tarpaulin – like the drumming sound of the first drops of rain on a dry roof. A rain of olives.

But above all – the warm and united family atmosphere, the love of mankind. The tea and coffee breaks under the trees, in a common circle. There are no partitions. One talks Arabic, English, Hebrew. The universal language of laughter. The news broadcasts remain beyond this circle, and it sometimes seems that no "world" exists beyond the limits of the plantation. Only us and the olives and a simple human accord.

They insisted we stay for dinner, and on the way they took us, with eye shining proudly, to the new olive press of the village. The families arrive with the sacks, filled with olives picked on the same day, and those turn within an hour into a green, thick, tasty oil.


We returned tired and happy, and on our lips there was the taste of the fresh oil and the taste of friendship.