There is something absolutely magical about ancient olive trees. They carry on growing for hundreds of years, becoming gnarled and coiled and knobbly, with fascinating holes in their bark which from far can conjure up images of ancient faces. Their crown of branches and olives look like elaborate head-dresses.
I’ve seen trees like this growing in statuesque majesty in the middle of arid landscapes in the eastern Mediterranean. They remind me of JRR Tolkien’s ‘Ents’ – the ancient tree spirits with their slow understanding of the unfolding of time.
The olive tree has many associations – its ability to survive, its toughness and longevity make it one of the original Bach flower remedies for stamina and the courage to keep going. Its delicious fruit are the perfect appetizer, also yielding glorious green-golden olive oil, another star item in the Mediterranean diet.
Also worthy of mention are olive leaves, which yield an extract as a tonic to the system, particularly good during the wintertime. Olive leaf extract is well-documented as being beneficial to the immune and digestive systems; traditionally the leaves have been brewed as a refreshing and tonic tea in local Mediterranean medicine.
When I think of the olive tree, I cannot forget its many gifts, nor its enduring majesty.