It’s a little bit after 7:00 o’clock in the morning. The rose bushes are still covered with drops of morning mist and that lives us with the feeling of fresh and energizing new day, never mind that we are up since dark.
My hands and feet are a bit wet, but not that much, and I’m so fascinated by the magic of the roses that this is not a problem at all.
The sun is slowly starting to go up in the sky. Uncle Ivan, one of the older and experienced harvesters that is working next to me is telling us that the is beautiful and very good for harvesting and we should gather maximum flowers up to noon, because in these early hours the flowers are oil-bearing the most.
He, like the rest of the harvesters has put a bag around his waist in order to collect the rose flowers. He says that is the oldest and most comfortable way to pick up roses and better way is probably not going to be invented.
And I have no other choice but to believe him because like Georgi, other harvester told me, Uncle Ivan has been harvesting roses on these fields since he was a child.
He’s an expert.
On the fields there are all kinds of people-from teenagers to old grandparents. Everyone was working in concentration, rushing against time that without a break was pushing the sun further and further in the sky. The temperature was slowly rising.
Me and Uka were not so prepared so we just took our time in gathering the rose flowers in our traditional aprons. After all we were just tourist and didn’t have to cover daily quantity. I was also happy that that night it didn’t rain and the ground was dry. After 8 o’clock apparently many insects were up too and going after their daily tasks, especially busy being the bees of course.
In the beginning it was a bit weird being surrounded by bees, because I felt as if I was stealing from their flower nectar but then I got used to it and I and the bees continue working in unison. The rose harvest became smooth as a song and I imagined we were just like a bees – from bush to bush and from flower to flower.
Some of the harvesters, like the young Maria, are even singing gently while picking flowers. The work was easier that way, she says. She also told us that the next 2 hours are the best for harvesting- the roses are fully awake, opened up, and the morning mist is helping them produce the precious rose oil.
She also advised me to pass on the rose buds because they are still not that oil-bearing as the opened flowers. We kept giving our harvest, from our aprons, to the closest harvester.
After 10:30, Raiko, as the locals called the sun, starts to be really strong and if it happens that you find yourself rose harvesting, remember an advice from me- equip yourself with a hat and a good sun glasses! Me and Uka have missed this equipment so we decided to stop and let the professionals do their job.
Near the rose rows we found to trees with big shade and only one look between us was enough to confirm that it is the ideal place to hide from the sultry heat. Getting closer to the trees we pleasantly discovered that the trees had red fruits between the leaves- these were cherry trees and the fruits looked ripe and tasty.
And really…they were tender and sweet and since we had a very fast breakfast this morning they were a good addition to this long day.
Between 11:30 and 12 o’clock the rose harvesters started to round up their task. It was quite hot and difficult to pick up flowers and the flowers itself had lost their morning freshness.
The full bags started to pile up next to the cars that were about to carry them to the rose distillery.
When the last bag for the day was brought from the rose field, the younger boys started to load the cars. Just then I realised I had small scratches on my hands form the rose thorns.
Still I felt quite satisfied and didn’t mind the insignificant damage. The people got in the cars and trucks and headed towards the rose distillery “Enio Bonchev”. We on the other hand had a special transport for the occasion- cute little donkey cart.
What magic happens in the rose distillery you can find in the next blog.