Olive Tree

Does absence make the heart grow fonder or is it in human nature to realize the true value of something when you can no longer have it? I really cannot figure out the right answer to this question. Coming from the coastal Aegean region, I grew somewhere in the midst of olive trees. I was so used to them and to the sounds of the crickets during the summer nights that I had almost taken them for granted. Maybe on account of this certainty, I had never tried to analyze an olive tree so closely until this summer. During my annual vacation with my family in my homeland, we went to a breakfast place on the hill of Aya Seranda in Cesme overlooking the Island of Khios. What a view it was! As you would imagine the Mediterranean Sea was the lead actor. Yet, in my eyes there was another very strong complementary element in this scenery. The olive trees…Without their presence the sea would be so lonely, even lose its identity. This tree had such a dignity and a very distinctive character of its own…First the beautiful silvery green color of its lanceolate leaves captured my eyes. The uniqueness of its color would pose a challenge even for the most experienced painters if they tried to match such a green. The silvery color on the underside of the leaf, which protects it from the heat or the cold, also serves as a delicate frame presenting the deep gray green on the top. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs which form right angles with their above and below neighbors. And there are the green olives in between those pairs of leaves which are waiting to turn black. As I rolled my eyes downward, the very characteristic trunk of the tree caught my attention. Its light grayish color was a complement to the leaves. It is hard to believe that this very humble, short and twisted trunk nourishes the fruits which ultimately yield one of the wonders of the nature, the olive oil. No wonder that this tree has a significant place in religious scriptures…

A substantial amount of symbolism has been associated with the olive tree over the course of time. The ancient Greeks and Romans wore olive leaf crowns to cherish their victories. The Egyptians viewed olive branches as a symbol of everlasting power. In modern times, the olive branch in the beak of a dove has been accepted as a symbol of peace. I will stick to the last one and wish for peace in my beautiful home country Turkey, which is also a home to many olive trees.

Aya Seranda, Cesme, Izmir

This photo was taken by the blogger on the Hill of Aya Seranda in Cesme, Izmir. The old bicycle parked under the olive tree suggests the leisurely and simpler way of the Mediterranean life. In case you happen to visit Cesme, Izmir, have a typical Turkish breakfast over there at Imren restaurant. It will be a feast for your eyes as well as your soul.

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