Monday, October 27, 2014

Tomatoes on the Sill

Tomatoes on the Sill

It has been a good tomato season for us. I rarely bought any this summer. There is nothing better than picking something from your own garden, warm and juicy, and serving it right then. Yum.

But the season has changed and it was time to clean out the greenhouse. Our plants were just about done, though there were several green tomatoes that I couldn’t bear to let go. So I picked the remaining ones and put them on our windowsill, hoping that they would ripen. They wouldn’t be fresh-picked when we ate them but they wouldn’t have traveled for days (weeks?) to get to the market so they should still have a newness about the taste.

This weekend on my regular afternoon walk, I saw that someone else had culled a tomato garden. The wilted vines were laying at the curb – with tomatoes still on them! Some were even red. Why weren’t they picked before the plants were uprooted? Did they have bugs or fungus that prevented a late harvest? It was all I could do to not dive in and rescue the poor produce. It seemed like a gift rejected. When I returned home, I looked at the tomatoes on my sill. One already started to show a blush on its mostly green skin. I was glad I had saved it and the others.

I wouldn’t make a good farmer. I would not be happy if I had to destroy any crops because of blight or government mandate or lack of a living wage due to overabundance. I am grateful for the local, organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free produce offered in my area. I look forward to visiting the farmers’ markets that pop up in Spring, to buying and supporting sustainable agriculture. The little I grow on my own connects me with the earth and I am grateful for the taste it provides. 

There are so many little things that add to the joy in life. Why not tomatoes?

Some easy, practical tips to growing tomatoes:

More involved info:

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Trees are Showing Off

The Trees are Showing Off            

Here it comes – Autumn! It’s been Fall officially since September 22nd but it takes a while for Mother Nature to make the transition. Now the trees are showing off. Red and yellow leaves decorate the streets, both on the branches and on the ground. Some people around my neighborhood are already raking though it seems futile at this point; the trees have just begun their annual leaf-release.
I remember walking through the leaves that gathered on the sidewalk when I was growing up. I loved the crunchy sound of the drying maple leaves as I stomped through them. I still do. I make it a point to shuffle my feet in the colorful piles as I take my afternoon walk. Sometimes I kick the leaves into the air and watch as they fall back down; I stop at actually jumping into the raked mounds as I once did. I can’t help smiling, though. I am re-experiencing a pleasant childhood ritual.
As I grew older, I was the one in the family who did the raking. I never minded – even now it isn’t an onerous task. I don’t mind shoveling either, when Fall shifts into Winter and the snow falls. Yes, it’s work, but it is also a moment to reconnect with a younger me.
I know the leaves aren’t falling to amuse me. Trees are responding to the season. Daylight is shorter, temperatures are cooler, the air is dryer. The trees try to conserve their energy by using the nutrients stored in their roots and trunks. Photosynthesis is no longer available. The colors are there all the time but are masked by the chlorophyll during the warmer parts of the year. Now we can see their beauty.
I wonder if we do the same thing, mask our inner beauty, as we pass through our own sense of seasons. Do we succumb to peer pressure in our teen years? Do we hold back our creative spirit in the workplace? Are we reluctant to express our convictions to politicians, clergy, relatives, friends? Perhaps the trees can remind us that we, too, have a dazzling inner core. Our life seasons may be longer but they are just as compelling – if we allow ourselves to see who we really are.

Why do trees shed their leaves?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasure

It was a beautiful Fall day. We were driving to a public park in a nearby town, about eight miles from our home. It was a small park, announced by a non-descript sign, but unless you knew where to look, you’d never see it. Wooden benches were scattered in a haphazard pattern along the grass on either side of a creek. There was a gravel path, mostly overgrown with weeds that led to a bridge that straddled the creek.
We had been here before but on this day we walked further inside the park. On one side of the water we discovered some fields for play, a few swings, and a small waterfall that splashed over the few rocks imbedded in the ground. On the other side were modestly rolling hills and some houses whose backyards led down to the water. The owners had decorated the bank with windmills and plastic flowers that added color and fun to the surroundings.
Further on, the water ran under a main road in town and appeared again under the crossing to resume its amble through the weed-grassy fields. It provided a reminder of the days when the town was mostly farms.
It wasn’t an impressive park but it was a delight all the same. I watched the water tumble onto the rocks and slowly go back to its calm meandering. I saw a young man taking photos – with a real camera – along the water’s edge. I smiled at the couple having a conversation on one of the benches and I let out a sigh as we approached our car for the drive home.
It was the kind of day that helps a person breathe deeper, to set aside whatever might be on your mind, if only for a brief time. But that respite is truly a treasure in our frenetic world. And all it took was a short ride and the willingness to look deeper into what seemed like nothing special. I’m glad we have parks.

Why are parks valuable?