Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Greece: Trimming the trees on Christmas Day

While many of you were gathered around your gaily trimmed Christmas trees unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, we were busy ‘unwrapping’ the gift we had given ourselves this year.  We were trimming, quite literally, our olive trees in Greece. (Still can’t quite believe they are ours, but they are!)

IDSCF1116 ’ve had fantasies about owning an olive grove since Frances Mayes in her “Under the Tuscan Sun” book planted such a notion a couple decades ago.

It sounded so Mediterranean. . .so exotic. . .so just. . .well, . . . just plain wonderful!

The 15-tree olive grove that terraces down the slope in front of this stone house were a selling point.

 I get to experience that ‘Frances Mayes’ life’ and Boy-of-the-Chelan (Washington State)-apple-orchard gets a return to his roots in a manner of speaking.

We knew it was an unloved, untended olive grove even way back last summer. What we didn’t know but have learned in the 10 days we’ve owned the place, is that our lovely trees are sick from their recent neglect.

Our grove
DSCF1360 “Cancer.” The diagnosis no one ever wants to hear, even when it is a tree. “We call it olive cancer.” explained our friend, Yiannis, somberly as he looked closely at one tree.

“This will have to be taken to here”, he said of the cutting necessary on my favorite old tree at the corner of the house.DSCF1361

Prior to Christmas Day our friend, Vagelis, had done an inspection of the trees in the grove and in a similar grave tone, told us the trees needed sunlight, they were too dense. And as a result a fungus-like growth was growing on large trunks and small branches. The growths are as large as the olives.DSCF1294

Olive harvest and pruning runs from late November to February in this part of the world so we are here at the right time to supervise such an activity. And Christmas Day, turned out to be the time the workers were available so our ‘tree trimming’ was rather unconventional and quite literal this year:

Trimming the trees Christmas Morning
With agility that defies comprehension the two workers climbed into the trees, cutting, sawing and cleaning out old growth.

The trimmed tree, we were told, should look like an upturned baseball glove – waiting to catch the sunlight.

In six hours the trees were trimmed
The two workers came with a ladder between them and in six hours had trimmed our trees and burned the branches they had removed. We decided not to harvest this year’s crop of olives.

Branches are cut and burned during the season such burns are allowed
Our ‘tree trimming’ made for a most memorable Christmas and has enticed us to return for another Christmas here next year: we might actually be harvesting our olives!


Thanks for stopping by today and to our many friends and followers we wish you a Happy New Year! Your comments,DSCF1365 emails and messages mean a lot – especially as we embark on this new adventure in Greece. 

We really do appreciate having you join us at TravelnWrite and hope you’ll continue traveling with us in the coming year!

And to those of you who’ve requested more garden and house photos. . .they are coming, we just have a bit more work to do before the Phase I unveiling.


  1. Hi Jackie,

    Just have a few moments to myself, in between all the goings on to catch up with you, only to learn about your poor trees, but happy to hear that they were treated with the right 'medicine', i.e., a good trim, and will be better than new, for the next harvest. You are learning so much, already, in your olive grove (!), on your beautiful sloping hillside in the Hellenic countryside, and every post is like a little adventure. And speaking of adventures...do you know that it SNOWED last night, all day, and is still snowing here, in our little village in Crete?!! The conditions are so extreme, (for Mediterranean folks, that is), that our priest was not able to bring the holy light to each house, to bless it, and its inhabitants. As I write, it's thunder storming and hailing, and although it is 2 °C, it feels like -2, according to the weather channel.

    Take care and happy housewarming!


    1. Thanks for stopping by Poppy - especially during such a wonderful family time! Hope your daughter is still visiting and you are continuing your winter adventures! I saw Jocelyn's photos of Crete snow and don't find it surprising as the snow is frosting the mountains that surround us here and it is VERY cold outside. We ran out of heating fuel on the Epiphany eve so are relying on our fireplace and space heater to keep us from freezing to death until the fuel man makes his delivery, hopefully, today and if not - tomorrow! Take care and keep in touch . ..xoxo Jackie

  2. What an adventure and such responsibility...for your trees!!! But they will repay your attention and love next year. You have to learn to extract the oil!!!! Take care and most of all enjoy your gift!!!

    1. We visited the olive press the other night and had a delightful time watching the olives get turned into that nectar of the gods, Marlys! Next year can't come soon enough to watch our olives being transformed into such a savory liquid. Thanks much for the visit and the comment.

  3. A lovely post! You brought the process alive for all of us. May your olive trees flourish!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Karen. You will have to come visit sometime when we are all on this side of the pond!

  4. So happy that you got your dream home in Greece - it was met to be. Know you will have it ship-shape in no time!

    1. Hi there - We are back in the land of the internet so I am catching up on comments. Hope you two will make it to our part of the world sometime while we are there and spend a few days with us in the stone house on the hill!

  5. Congratulations! What a dream! I felt the same way after reading Under The Tuscan Sun, but that hasn't yet been fulfilled, so I will live vicariously through you! Looking forward to your Greek adventure!


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