November 2018- enjoy the continued sunshine!
November in Crete means cloudless blue sky, warm sunny days and cool evenings, simply a wonderful month. The light at this time of year is crystal clear highlighting the natural beauty of the island. After the first, brief, rain showers of October there are small grass shoots poking through the earth and almost overnight there are patches of vibrant green dotted around the landscape. On the trees there are crops of black, purple and green olives hanging ready for the picking and these will eventually be pressed into delicious golden olive oil. Many fruits are now ready for harvest including lemons, quince, walnuts and (my favourite) the pomegranate, which have trees heavy with delicious and nutritious fruits, so beautiful when you open the fruit to find the sweet red gems inside!
It is well documented that the Greek diet is a healthy one combining olive oils, fruits, vegetables, fish and dairy from goats milk and sheep milk, but how do you fancy trying donkey milk... a drop in your Greek coffee?
The olive harvest has begun. Whilst out walking I have noticed the familiar black nets under the olive trees lying ready to catch the fall, and have even seen the occasional white sack on the ground full-to-bursting with ripe olives ready for the factory. The whirring sound of the mechanical olive picking machines can be heard from now through until March as the fruits are harvested and sometimes you will glimpse whole families supporting the more traditional method of beating the heavy olive branches with a stick to free the fruits: hard work that pays off, especially in terms of health. I always knew Crete was good for me! With the olive harvest in full swing, now is the time to prune back the branches of the trees and allow for the new growth come the Spring. Local hand carved olive wood products are very attractive and, dare I say it, can make useful and decorative Christmas presents!
As the tourist season closes November is a time for seasonal workers to take a holiday or to visit family and friends. Regular flights operate between Crete and Athens allowing for easy access to mainland Greece or getting a connecting flights to elsewhere, for that well earned winter break. Or if you want to stay closer to (your Greek) home, holiday in the now quieter villages, enjoy a chat with the locals, swim in the sea and relax on the beaches, you may be the only one there. In Agia Galini sit in the harbour and watch the boats being taken out of the water. This annual event sees the fishing and tourist boats pulled out from the sea and placed upon wooden plinths, where they sit and dry out ready for a new coat of paint in the spring.
As the hustle and bustle eases allow your senses to be stimulated by the aroumas and sounds of approaching wintertime in Crete; enjoy the smell of fresh mountain herbs, hearty home cooked foods, salty sea spray, and raki being distilled in the local villages. Listen to the whirring of the olive picking machines knocking the fruits from the branches, the lapping of the waves on the quietened beaches or at the kafenion the gentle clickety- click of the worry beads as the locals finally take an opportunity to sit back… and relax. Whatever you do and wherever you are I hope you get to enjoy the lovely month of November!!
Photo by Julia Burgoyne. Tropica Studios, Agia Galini. October 2018.