Some years ago my mother and her late husband, John, were on a cruise in the Mediterranean. She didn't much like cruises but John loved them. On the wall of the ship was a quote from The Olive Tree by Aldous Huxley. It meant enough to her that she copied it into her diary.
A few weeks ago I spoke to her about the sadness I had felt at hearing olives being wrenched from the land adjacent to ours. The tenant of the land was removing four of these noble trees to the garden of his new pink villa on the edge of the village. They were magnificent 100 year old trees, wide enough to hang a hammock in, but he set about them with a chainsaw before the digger hauled them from the earth with chains. I heard them scream and had to walk away.
When I spoke to her about it Mum was reminded of the piece, and without a word to me set about finding the relevant diary. Then she and her lovely helper, the divine Tara, plotted to find a copy of the Huxley book. Tara searched the internet, found an excellent 1937 copy in Sussex. She ordered, received, packed and posted it to me here in France, along with Mum's original note torn from her diary.
Here it is.
'If I could paint and had the necessary time, I should devote myself for a few years to making pictures only of olive trees'
I like to think that the spirit of olive trees links my mother and I.