“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;”
So wrote John Keats, the first lines of his poem, “To Autumn.” One of the great English poets, who on February 23, 1821, at the age of twenty-five, died in rooms overlooking the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. I think of him often, kindred spirit, and read “To Autumn” every fall, my favorite season. “Fill all fruit with ripeness to the core”—that’s what our olive trees have been engaged in passionately for centuries. And for us—to make something beautiful like a simple pasta with garlic, peperoncini and oil, lots of oil. To help to make ourselves full of health, to live longer and better. To give us the simplest and purest pleasure—around the table with family and friends and strangers who become friends and family.
The olive harvest always reminds me that we seek transformation constantly. If we don’t transform, we stay still, we stop, and we don’t start up again. And the beauty of the olive tree is that it just keeps transforming, filling out, ripening all its fruit, year after year, century after century, whether someone is there to reach for its fruit or not. That’s one thing to learn—patience and passion working for each other.
Which brings me to our own oil, the same oil given to us by our trees for decades, the only oil we’ve used for decades (although we’re as passionate about our neighbors’ oil as much as ours). It’s a culture we’re grateful to have been a part of. Harmony, when harmony is what all of us so desperately at times need.
To read the entire poem, “To Autumn,” you can click on this link from the wonderful Poetry Foundation https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44484/to-autumn