Thursday, August 20, 2009

Salt! Light! Tomatoes!

Here's hope against hope: planting tomatoes.  You plant a tomato plant in the Pacific Northwest, land of the bumper crop of green tomatoes, and every now and then, summer heat rips out of control.  Then, as if by mistake, you get thousands and thousands of plump purses of sweet and sour red juice: homegrown tomatoes.  It's such a summer.  A summer of ripe tomatoes.

And thank God for this bounty, because this has been the most challenging year since my kids have grown (the challenges while they were little weren't their faults). Thank God for this bounty when I am feeling so overwhelmed by loss after loss. 

I don't have to forgo this great pleasure: biting into a perfect red globe, the seeds and juice exploding into my mouth and reminding me that at least in the world of the garden all is still as it should be.  

Tomatoes follow natural laws, they are not regulated by opinion polls or popular demand.  If there is no sun, no amount of consumer ranting can produce a proper tomato. The tomatoes that stoop to demands, anemic imitations from hothouses hardly qualify as tomatoes, which must be grown slowly, under fierce sunshine on muggy days.

When it is hot the tomatoes ripen, when it rains they drink till they're full, and when the tomatoes are just right they fall off the vine right into my hand.  Still warm from the sun when I cut them for my lunchtime sandwich, there's nothing so sweet. And it's not just the tomatoes that abound.

It's the purple black eggplants swelling so big you can't imagine the vine could hold them.  It's the Anaheim peppers waxy and slick, and the thought, even just the thought, of the smell of them roasting for chilies rellenos.  (Someday, I'll have to blog the recipe, but for now, it's in the vault.)

Strawberries are done, and I only got two blueberries from my baby bush, but tomatoes keep blossoming and forming on the vine.  Thank God for tomatoes! Hope against hope, I will be canning up the bumper crop of sweet red tomatoes for the winter ahead.  


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