Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Our garden sucked this year.

We put in some peas that produced a handful of pods, and we got enough slicing tomatoes for a couple BLT sandwiches.  A few volunteer plants sprang out of the weedy mess -- a squash vine and a few extra tomato plants that must have rooted in from our compost -- but they yielded fairly yucky tasting produce.

The fact is, we've never had much of a garden. My excuses are related to periods of pregnancy and baby rearing that drained my energy for all tasks outside the absolutely necessary. And I take home a bounty from the market stand where I work every weekend -- beautiful organic vegetables grown by folks who know what they're doing and do it well -- so I've felt little motivation to try to grow my own.

But for some reason, we're still getting about a handful of sungold tomatoes every day from our sad little patch. The plants are yellowing -- dying slowly -- but the fruit keeps ripening. It's a great afternoon snack.

Claire and Eliza won't have anything to do with tomatoes, but Ruthie could eat her weight in them. Yesterday, when I was hanging the laundry, she crawled over to the plants and reared up on her knees, laughing at the treats hanging just out of her reach. Nothing was quite ripe to pick then, but the green-tinged globes had turned golden by this afternoon.

I had felt fairly flat-lined all day. I couldn't find anything worth mentioning -- worth writing about -- anywhere. The leaves were just leaves, brittle in my hands. The sun shone brightly, but didn't show me anything different. The dishes were just the dishes; the diapers were what they always are. It wasn't an unpleasant day. But I felt like I was waiting for inspiration...sitting at the station, checking the clock, banking on a train that had already derailed.

Then I took Ruthie outside to gather our tomatoes. She quivered on my hip, trying to grab at what I clutched in my hand. I bit one in half and handed her the other piece -- she swallowed it before I could pick another. She laughed and made her want more noises with great urgency. Seeds were smeared all over her face and my shirt by the time our harvest was consumed. She opened my palm, looking for more. 

It was empty.

She tapped my palm with her finger -- a sign for more that I've been trying to teach her. She'd never done it without prompting before.

Sorry, baby. That's all we have today.

We went inside. She found something else to do [see yesterday's post] while I started dinner.

And I got to thinking. Some days brim with bounty and beauty, don't they? Some days literally pulse with something special. And I gobble those days up and write them down when I can. But sometimes, the trees are bare. Sometimes, there's nothing left and it doesn't matter if I ask for more.

That's it. It's gone. You ate it all up.

But I love it when those golden fruits grow back. I love it when I go to bed and a new day surprises me with packets of poetry strewn all over the house. I collect those crumbs and follow their meandering path.

There's not a lot of growing season left, though. Here in the Midwest, time is running out on our little tomato crop -- I'm sure a killing frost lurks in the shadows just around the corner.

But I'm not worried. I'm good at foraging and I'm not a picky eater. I'll find something to eat.