Picking Olives in October

Every October, each family in my village heads to their olive farms, armed with huge canvas sheets and plastic buckets. The women then proceed to spend the next six hours picking olives, gossiping, and only stopping to pray or to escort their crying kids to the house.
It seemed like fun, so I agreed to go out "into the fields" with my neighbor. Heeding her advice, I wore plastic gloves and a hat. At 10 am, we arrived at the farm. A sea of parallel rows of olive trees greeted us, glistening with ripe and plump black olives. I hate olives. But, this was a cultural experience, so I got down on my hands and knees and helped my fellow females drag the canvas sheet under the tree (picture a blanket under the Christmas tree to prevent needles from getting on the carpet). Then, each of us targeted a branch and proceeded to pick the olives. After finishing with the lower branches, the mothers called their limber children, who scampered over with wooden sticks and broken plastic hoses.
Two children per tree skillfully climbed up, until they were hidden among the higher branches. I followed the women's example and stepped away from the tree, watching as the children balanced on the trunk and proceeded to whack the branches with their sticks or hoses, causing the olives from the upper branches to fall off. Then, we carefully shaped the canvas sheet into a funnel, and poured all the olives (along with the leaves and small sticks) into plastic buckets. One tree down, two hundred to go!
Well, I have to admit that the next day, when my neighbor told me to grab my plastic gloves and hop into the truck, I made an excuse that I was tutoring an eigth-grader so, regrettably, I couldn't pick olives that day. There comes a saturation point when listening to women gossip about who's marrying who for six straight hours and picking olives that you wish were big, fat, juicy grapes. But there was a very nice reward for my toils in the fields: my neighbor graciously gave me a liter of fresh olive oil!

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