Though I did not grow up with them, I feel a true connection to the olive trees of Umbria. They make sense in the landscape here. They appeal to me on an esthetic level, as well as an historic level. The beauty of form, the blend of color that just speaks to my soul, the sound of them in the wind...it's all too much.
And the fruit they produce, let's not forget that.
I find myself returning again and again to the groves while Johnny is painting. They are everywhere here, and the locals are proud of the traditional oil they produce, "The best in the world", of course.
|An old soul here.|
This time of year, after the harvest and pressing in November, the olive trees are being pruned. I have noticed that many are being pruned quite severely, and I don't know why. The winter here was very wet, with lots of bad flooding in this region. Many of the groves have taken on a sickly yellowish color from being too saturated.
There was also snow, which can cause much damage. It is painful to see the olive trees suffering, but I assume these are cycles that they have gone through before.
Some of these tress are 7-800 years old, I'm told.
After finally asking a local, I was told that the trees are pruned "hard" every few years, and this happens to be one of those years. It's a way to keep the trees producing a heavier crop, and it also creates some wonderful wood for next years fireplaces.
|An older grove after just being pruned. The cuttings will be gathered and burned.|
My favorites are the older trees, with loads of character...some of them seem to have little worlds inside the lower trunks....
|Who lives here?|
Because we are way up on a hill, and there are groves all around us, I am often awestruck by the views from the fields of trees. I wonder how the work of pruning and harvesting can even get done with the "bella vista". I wouldn't be able to get anything done, surrounded by such beauty.
|An old grove, just pruned, with Lago Trasimeno in the distance.|
I swear, I take more photos of olive trees than almost anything else. It's hard to resist, because each one is a wonder. They have all this moss and lichen, wildflowers even. I look for toads or lizards hiding out in the nooks at the base of these giants.
Where we are, the groves are scattered through out the hills and valleys. Sometimes very well tended, and pruned just so. Manure tossed about the root lines, and weeds kept at bay.
But there are also lots of forgotten groves...overgrown and wild. Berry brambles compete for sun and the weeds/wildflowers have taken over the fields. We wonder who they belonged to, and why they are not taken care of. I guess I kind of like to see them all shaggy and unrestrained.
The grove below is just outside of Chianciano-Terme, a hilltown across the valley from Panicale. We were there a couple of weeks ago, and I loved seeing the flowering plum tree in the middle of the grove. A great shot of Spring.
Seeing the older trees just after they have been pruned is cool. I love being able to see the branches, the"bones" of these old beauties.... Plus, the moss. The greys and greens together just knock me out.
|Another lovely grove with a fantastic view.|
A couple of mornings ago, while Mr. Apodaca was in his world of color, I took a stroll into yet another grove. All was going well, birds singing, sun sort of shining, wildflowers beginning to bloom...it was sweetness defined. I was happy, walking along, humming some Italian top 40 tune, looking for a good photo op...
The path was a classic "strada bianca"...white road. The shot below shows where I was. No problem, dry, good walking road. Safe.
I see a little side path to the left. Looks good, off the main drag, such as it was. Why not check it out? It could offer an outstanding view, or the most beautiful old olive tree ever...
Honestly, the path looked fine. It looked like a slightly damp, sandy, gravely, but stable and walkable path. I went ahead. Why not?
Why not? Because as my right foot made contact with said path, it sunk into 2-3 inches of poo. Really wet, really stinky, really barnyard-animaly poo. I slipped, too. Almost lost my balance and came right down into a small lake of stink. It looked like a sandy path, I swear! And I had my nice boots on, too. What a mess. Mr. Apodaca was not amused, as I went through his entire roll of paper towels, trying to clean the stenchy disaster. Sigh. Got on the cuff of my pants, too.
Needless to say, we drove home with the windows open.
I don't care, I still love walking in the olive groves.
That story being told, let's move on to some more fine examples of the wonderful olive trees I will continue to adore:
|Another grove just being pruned.|
|A tree we walk by a lot, and that I always admire.|
|I love this small grove, underplanted with artichokes.|
What a great texture combo.
|Typical medium sized grove, along our morning walk.|
|These trees make me think they are dancing. In Gioveto.|
|I'm trying to get artsy with this shot...I love the moss, and I love the twisting branch.....|
Now, as we are almost in April, the sun is showing itself a little more, and I am thrilled to see more and more wildflowers popping up in the groves. The shot below I took just yesterday, March 28th.
Johnny and I were out painting just outside of Panicale. There was this guy trying to go un-noticed as he foraged for wild asparagus....the sun was out and actually warm. It was a fantastic day, altogether.
We loved the yellow splash under this grove.
Not 100% certain, but I think we may get some Spring this year, after all..