the making of olive oil – an ancient ritual

In short: pick them, crush them, press them.

Or a bit more in depth, if you’d like. People in the Middle-East and the Mediterranean region have been munching on olives for at least 5,000 to 6,000 years. It’s not one of those nice fruits that you can just enjoy straight from the tree, though – try it, and you’ll have a very bitter and in many ways unpleasant experience. Instead, olives become edible either by being cured and fermented, or by being pressed into delicious oil.

Olive trees often live for hundreds of years, and some have even been shown to be over 1,500 years old! They’re tough, drought tolerant, most often survive fires, and can produce fruit throughout their entire, very long lifetime. No wonder there’s a lot of myth and symbolism surrounding these trees.

Ok, back to the point. The opposite of short does not have to be a textbook.

Last autumn, I experienced olive oil production for the second time in my life. Unlike the first time, I decided to take part and document it (there might even be a video at some point, but one cannot be sure): everything from the olive harvest to the storing of the oil. Let me continue telling this story with the help of some photographs. This is, after all, a photography blog.

1. The Harvest.

No-one said the trees give up their fruit willingly – on the other hand, who minds spending the day climbing trees in the beautiful Moroccan autumn sun?

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“Picking” might be the wrong word. Sure, there is some picking involved, but mainly, it’s about shaking branches, hitting the tree with sticks and gathering the fallen fruit from the ground.

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mundane marvels

We travel around the world in search of new experiences and mind-expanding adventures. I do it, as much as I can, and I love it. But sometimes there are instances when I wonder if it’s really worth it – in terms of cost, both financial and ecological. One of those times was about a month ago, when I was visiting a friend who lives close to where I grew up. I was walking past the chicken enclosure, looking at the hens eating snow and talking to each other. For a moment, I lifted my eyes and saw the small icicles that had formed on the edge of the tin roof – and there it was. The most beautiful, intricate, life-like shapes I had ever seen hanging off a roof. In that same instant, I realized that the reason it was the first time was probably only because I hadn’t looked well enough during the thirty years of my existence on this planet.

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Fireworks? Algae? Or air trapped in frozen water.

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the eye of the beholder

We see them every day, from the moment we step in front of a mirror or say good morning to a partner, friend, cat, dog, colleague, bus driver. Or when we’re taking a really close look at a fly, or a spider, or a frog. That’s something everyone does every day, right? Sometimes we see them even when there are none.

The eyes are the instruments of vision, but they’re also great sources of information. By looking at each other’s eyes, we can find out what others are looking at (a kind of non-verbal communication), their state of excitement and health status. Also, the eyes are, of course, a great inspiration for poets, romantics, painters and photographers.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder can be understood in two ways, and here, I want to share the beauty I’ve found in those beholding eyes.

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A pool of glacial water. Did you know that there are no blue or green pigments in our irises, only light brown to black? What we see as eye colour comes from the pigments in combination with the scattering of light in the stroma, which is why we can observe eye colour changing with lighting conditions. This photo was taken by a glacial river after sunset.

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a rusty beginning

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope the beginning of the year has been good for you and that the remainder will be even better.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I finally got around to it. As I ended last year with images of youth, growth and excitement, I thought that it would be appropriate to begin this year with tranquil ageing. There’s beauty in that, too!

Rust is corrosion of iron and will always happen as long as there is oxygen and water around. Given enough time, the rusting will lead to the iron disintegrating. It’s a well-known phenomenon, and to me, one of the most beautiful forms of decay. I hope you enjoy the photos!

(I also just added a few more poems to this blog, so if you have an interest in such silliness, go have a look!)

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Rust and ivy (Hedera maroccana).

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maya & ava – the joys of summer

It’s winter and the year is getting very old… So why not have a bit of a throw-back to summer and children?

Let’s be honest: I’ve never really had a great interest in children. To me, some of them seem decent and okay to be around, some are even a bit funny, and some, to be honest, mostly seem annoying. Luckily they have parents who have little choice but to love them (and yes, yes, I’m sure they’re lovely at other times). I have to admit, though, than since my childhood friends started having kids of their own, my attitude has slowly started changing. Because honestly, when the annoying little brats are perfect little copies of your best friends at the time when you were reveling in the fact that the world revolved around you and your fantasy worlds, how can you resist? At that point it’s hard not to give in a bit and say, okay kids, I won’t judge you too harshly. Also, you have to, because you start realizing what a horrible child you (and your friends…) were.

So in August, when my friend asked if I could come and take some photos of her two children, I said ‘Of course!’. It was a beautiful summer day, and my friend had just moved back to the village where we spent our childhood. I won’t go into much detail concerning the photo session – I’ll let the photos speak for themselves – but two kids have rarely made me feel so welcome. I guess that it may, perhaps, also have a little bit to do with attitude.

I hope I managed to capture some of the happiness, wildness and friendliness of these wonderful kids, and share it with you. Enjoy!

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Back yard angel.

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white and blue and everything else

It’s Finland’s 98th independence day today. I miss the good things, and they are many; I miss the familiar things, some of which are good. Many of the things I miss are much older than 98 years – the archipelago, the seasons, the sauna, the languages; the people I miss are all younger. My heart is a travelling heart, but it was created and grew in an atmosphere of fresh air, friendship, comfortable silence, and tolerance. For that, I am grateful.

They say that the colours of Finland are white and blue, but to me, they are a rainbow.

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The home-made, traditional red paint.

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gliding through the blue

It’s easily one of the best feelings in the world: kayaking. No matter if it’s on a calm and sunny summer’s day, a rainy day in early autumn or a cool and windy spring day, the kayak feels like an extension of my own body and brings such tranquility and complete focus to the moment at hand. It may sound like I’m becoming spiritual, but it’s actually the opposite (what that means is a good question). During the latest kayaking trip, which took place this August, I wrote about the physical sensation of kayaking in my journal: “today, all that exists is what my body perceives”.

My friend and I always plan to go on annual kayaking expeditions. For one reason or another, they turn out to be biennial instead: I’ve made posts about some of them before. This year, we managed to squeeze one in between some of my other journeys around the world, and I’m endlessly happy that we did! We stayed relatively close to home (if we forget the fact that we were kayaking in western Finland and I live in Morocco), which is never the boring alternative, for several reasons. First of all, you see the familiar in a completely new way if you’re kayaking. Second of all, this area is known for its endless number of underwater rocks, so there’s never time to get bored!

Most of my photos made during this trip were taken in the mornings, evenings or during lunch breaks, since I preferred not to keep my camera out while kayaking. I really should get a pocket camera for occasions like this… But that’s beside the point. Even if I won’t be able to communicate the joys of the physical act of kayaking through my photos, I think it’s worth sharing some photos anyway. Because honestly, the small islands and headlands of the archipelago are such treasure troves, even when they’re close to home.

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The view from a small island (where we slept) on our first evening. The world almost seemed to say, ‘Welcome’.

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