A Saturday in November

Lovely clear sunny Saturday and the wind at a comfortable calm, but the beauty of the day is interrupted with the peppered sound of hunting guns ..”Run Rabbit run..”

This is a busy time for all who live on, or farm in the Lower Ebro Valley. Wherever you go you will see on a weekend whole families dragged home from Barcelona or Zarragozza to help bring in the olive crop. The offsprings are easily identifiable at the oil mill, as they endeavour to reverse in the old family trailer piled high to over-flowing (to avoid a second trip and a later return to quiet urban lives of their own) attached to their posh car -affordable by working in the cities.

One such gent, eager to share his command of the English language, started up a very informed conversation with me, as we patiently awaited our turn. He was shocked to hear that “us English” still picked by combing the trees and had not invested in high end power tool “shakers” that grip the tree and vibrates the olives into a huge pile on the floor.

As we parted company, he said as this was my “final pick” the tradition is now to go home and have a feast with the family over Cava. Oh yes! A bottle of Cava must be opened at the end of your olive harvest!  Sounds good to me.

All week we have watched a fleet of vehicles arrive at the mandarin plantation across the ‘Barranc’ from us and teams of multi-cultured people, flow between the rows after rows picking all day long. Their cheerful chatter floats across on the wind to us. Every now and again the air is spurted with angry shouts and arm waving. The foreman must have  a quota to get in. Then, fancy agricultural equipment arrives to lift all these crates and pile them high onto the back of the most enormous trailers.

We fervently watch our German Shepherds as they sniff the air, glancing back to see if we have gone inside and if they can escape to run amock the pickers. We know the patterns. We stay on guard.

But on some evenings we have noticed night lights on the tractors and they are still picking. I feel for the pickers. They must just collapse into bed, too tired to eat or think – just sleep, until the next dawn rising.

Yet, this is a wonderful time to be out walking and exercising the dogs or just strolling with the family. Take your camera though, because you can often snap some delightful scenes of the events unfolding in the countryside.

It doesn’t cost a penny if you walk or cycle and everyone enjoys it.

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