17 - The Almond Harvest. Or: "Ways to Ensure Your Neighbours Think You're Mad number 67"
10 September 2012 @ 22:51
So Rafael has been working out in the campo, long hours, and finally it’s all paid off and he’s brought home the bacon. Or rather, he’s brought home the almonds. Thousands. Hundreds of thousands. And he appears to be storing them in his front room.
He reckons he has several thousand trees. I think he had help picking them and loading them into the sacks. But once he’d brought them back to our little cul-de-sac he was on his own. The family two houses up the hill from me sat and drank and laughed and called out, making generally encouraging noises as Rafael heaved every single heavy sack out of the truck by himself. I leapt around asking naïve questions and generally getting in the way, but all the time providing enormous entertainment for the street. “You’ve never seen sacks of freshly-picked almonds before?” they asked, horrified. “What, you’ve never seen half a million almonds in a heap in somebody’s house before?” “So, in your country, where do people put the almonds when they’ve picked them?” Where, indeed.
There’s a superb 8-second video on YouTube that shows an almond tree being harvested. It’s only 8 seconds because that’s how long it takes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7ymkfgqH3Y
Later, when I popped into the Arco del Sol bar a mile or so outside the village, they somehow already knew I’d asked questions about the almonds and taken pictures. Old men were chuckling on barstools, wondering why anyone would take pictures of something so mundane as a heap of almonds. They stared when I turned up. I was Exhibit A. They were delighted to see the actual foreign lunatic they’d been laughing about before I walked in.
Rafael’s harvest will go mostly to be made into turron, the yummy nougat which floods the shops at Christmas time. The finest almonds will be taken to be put into bags of frutos secos (dried nuts and fruit). I can’t necessarily tell the difference between a merely average almond and a particularly fine one, but his harvest looks good to me. Even with the bicycles parked in it.
© Tamara Essex 2012
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