Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Putting Down Roots

Today I did something a little crazy. OK, from my perspective. You will probably wonder why I bother writing about it, it is so mundane an activity.

Our first olive tree.
 Today I bought an olive tree.

Wow, do you hear crickets too? I told you it would sound boring. And maybe it is, until you think about it a little more.

I bought a tree. It's little right now, only about a foot tall. It has tiny little leaves on slender branches and in it's squat little pot it doesn't take up much space on our terrace. But it is a tree's nature to grow and if I don't kill it accidentally (I am good at killing plants) it could in fact live for centuries. This is no exaggeration, there are olive trees that are two thousand years old. They are tenacious with a root system so strong that even if the tree is destroyed above ground it can regenerate itself from below.

Olive trees and the oil they produce are a part of this culture that I live in. No meal is complete without olive oil. It is spicy and rich. Those lucky enough to have their own trees proudly offer visitors a taste of their last pressing.

In Minnesota the dream is to own a little piece of lakeshore to enjoy. In Italy the dream is to own a little piece of land with olive trees. Just enough to provide your family with oil for the year.

So I bought an olive tree. This symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and pureness sits on our terrace. What does is mean to me? (Oh, a very Lutheran question!) It's my desire to be here in this place with this man. It's hope that I will be caring for this same tree when I am 100 years old, and that my children and grandchildren will feel the same way about it and about Italy. It's a commitment to a way of life that I continue to enjoy learning. It's a dream that maybe, someday, we will have enough land to keep ourselves in olive oil. This small tree could be the start of the family olive grove.

Seriously, you don't buy a tree if you  don't plan to be around for a good long time. Especially one that is almost impossible to kill.

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