On my mother’s relentless frugality which makes her life harder, but the world a better place.
In November 2010, I paid a visit to my mother’s home town in Çanakkale, Turkey. The waters Helen of Troy bathed in. The coast Alexander the Great battled for. Land of ancient gods, witness to countless myths of love and war.
My childhood summers passed in this Aegean seaside village. Our tradition was to visit the fields after a dip in the turquoise waters. We would pick sweet green peppers and blood red tomatoes from the vine. My uncle would crack open a watermelon right then and there. I would bury my face in a giant slice, lick the sweet and the salt of the Aegean off my cheeks.
After migrating to the US, I skipped one too many of these summers in Çanakkale. For other experiences. Going back, everything that was same old felt better than anything shiny and new.
No more watermelon in November, of course. But on this lucky trip, I caught the tail end of the olive harvest.
Aegeans speak of olive trees like people. Like gold. The joy and pain they bring to families. The stories of the trees freezing to death. The mourning of it all. The decades it takes for that first fruit to come. The many generations involved. The precious seed. The medicine in each drop of olive oil. The benefits for the skin. Hair masks and soaps.
Mom put us to work. We shook the fruit off the branches, filled our baskets with mixed green and black olives, ready to be seasoned.
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