Lesvos Olive Oil #2
Before this unspeakable bond, the talent of the most charismatic writer, painter or photographer is tested. It is a common place that the character of a people is composed and defined – besides everything else through the interaction of the person with its environment, its natural surroundings. And if we had to name one natural element mostly characterizing and influencing Greece’s socio-political reality and religious practices, customs and beliefs throughout the centuries, that would certainly be the olive tree, says Nikos Psilakis in his book The civilization of the olive tree.
Ever since the wild olive tree made its appearance and throughout all the intermediate periods up to the present day – beginning from the years of Gatelouzoi, the Turkish Occupation, the liberation, the first and second world wars, the Minor Asia catastrophe, the Occupation, the after – war period – there is no event not closely related to the cultivation of the olive tree. The gathering of the olives, the peasant life, the adventures and hardships, the desires and pleasures of the peasantry hold a special place in the island’s cultural canvass. Even when in 1850 a great frost (Megali Kamada) utterly destroyed the olive groves, the people of Lesvos didn’t abandon their beloved tree. They brought new more resilient varieties. Using their bare hands and their animals they carried clay up to every remote hill and slope. They made embankments to hold the clay and secure the trees. Soon they had created a new set of olive groves ten times larger