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Day 7 of the 2019 Greek Hovel Olive Harvest - the day of the snake

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 24 February 2020

Having said goodbye to one harvester on the Monday, T1, we were down to three, we merry band of harvesters. And volunteer T2 ( to whom I still owe a litre of oil which i will send on a quiet day) was set to leave at midday. So the diminished group started work on the top terrace on the mountain side early on. We worked well, so well that mid morning I fet in need of a rest and sat on a rock. SNAKE!!!! I screamed noticing what was sitting besides me, as I leapt into the air.

K, our heroic leader wandered over to the snake. The man is mad I thought as he prodded it with a stick. It was a small creature, just the sort that has a venemous bite. But after a bit of prodding, K pronounced it dead. I was not convinced and a couple of minutes later pointed out that it had appeared to move.

That prompted a bit more prodding and a closer examination. It seems that the sun, which was by now beating down, had simply caused the body to shrivel a bit more, so making it appear to move, for the snake was indeed well and truly dead. In fact it seemed to have no head suggesting that this was a kill for the hovel cat. But it did rather beg the question of what a snake was doing not hibernating at this time of year. Might there be other snakes out and about in the November sun?

Within an hour K claimed to have spotted another one poking its head out of a hole about a yard up an olive tree on the way back to the Hovel. Though somewhat alarmed by this discovery, I decided to have a look, albeit from a yard or so away. Panic over, it was in fact just a small lizard. No more snakes. That must await my next visit at Easter by when the little sepents will have emerged from hibernation and will be fuelling my paranoia once again.

At lunchtime K was dropped off at the Kourounis taverna in Kambos and after more fond farewells, I drove T2 to the bus station in Kalamata with enough time to show him the murder bridge on the way. After another hard afternoon’s labour with just myself and K we were almost done. We had just one day to go and were at 21 bags (almost) and K and I headed off to Miranda’s for our last supper, fuelled by Tsipero for him and Metaxa for myself and tall tales of snakes for both of us.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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