I'm getting much better at really looking at the trees around me and noticing what they are. Not so long ago, it was all just a wall of green that was a background to wherever I was going. I can now confidently identify wattles (the sap is edible), she oaks (great for basket weaving), japanese maples (lovely shapes for eco-dyeing) and olives tress (need I say more?). I adore olives. They are my all-time favourite snack. So many varieties, so many ways of preserving. And so tasty! We eat a ridiculous amount of shop bought olives each week in this family. We've all got our favourites. For me and Miss Seven it's currently sicilian olives marinated in lemon and garlic. The lovely G scoffs the chilli olives along with Miss Eleven who's also partial to the feta stuffed ones. Of course we can't live without kalamata olives either, they go into my chicken casserole or a tuna nicoise salad.
I'm so excited that olive season is finally here again and I can have another go at curing olives. This time, hopefully with more success! There's quite a few places around Melbourne where you can find olive trees growing on nature strips. I went to a wilder place to pick my olives. As I sank deep into the rhythm of picking olives from the tree, thoughts flittered through my mind. I thought with wonder and gratitude of all the people who do this every day so that I can eat olives whenever I want to. I wondered at how long it takes to carefully pick olives from the tree so that they don't bruise. I can hurry but I'll damage my crop. A lesson in slow and steady. My focus narrows and becomes razor sharp. Now it's just the sun on my face, me and the tree. I get really good at singling out the green olives without blemishes. It becomes a game, how many do I still need to pick to fill my jar?
There's magic to be found in foraging. There's the excitement of discovering trees bearing fruit. A growing awareness of the plants around me. A connection to the season and what is ripe and ready for picking. You can't hurry a tree along, it's gonna be ready when it's ready. What a great teacher of patience and waiting until the time is just right! Invariably there's a lot of tasting before things are ripe but that's all part of the learning too. Who knew that green mulberries warmed by the sun are tasty when eaten right off the tree? My girls know! Discovery, tasting and the joy of harvesting. And all the while we are getting our hands dirty, feet planted firmly on the earth.
What are you foraging?