Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes

When the days were still short and it was cold outside early this past spring, our son planted tomato seeds in egg cartons and placed them on his windowsill. He tended the plants like children, transplanting them into pots as they outgrew the egg cartons, then reluctantly moving them outside when the time came. Once out of doors the plants required very little human attention, although they got a lot of attention from a certain groundhog.

There was a tense day in June when DH, who doesn't always read labels, decided to spray all the plants for bugs. Not only did DS, an organic gardener, not approve of the use of chemicals on his children, but the spray DH used appeared for a time to have killed the plants. Contrite, he hosed them all down, hoping to save not only the plants but his son's happiness. Fortunately a few survived, and DH sneaked in a few more he bought from the Feed and Seed across the street. Had all the plants lived I don't know what we would have done with all the tomatoes.

For the last few weeks we have been awash in tomatoes. We have orange ones. We have Roma, which always make me think of the gypsies I encountered overseas. And we have the classic red ones that taste great on a ham sandwich. It is a great joy for me to pick them in the gentle September sun and lay them carefully into a doubled Wal-mart bag, which I lug into the kitchen and empty onto the counter. A mixed blessing, however, is figuring out how to use them all. I've given as many away as I could find recipients for. I've made salsa, I've made spaghetti sauce, I've frozen a dozen Ziploc bags full, I've made more salsa, I've made more spaghetti sauce... DH grumbles that there's no room in the freezer for anything important, like ice cream.

I hate to admit this, but I left several dozen to rot on the vine. The groundhog, who early in the summer got thumbs-down for getting fat off the fruits of our son's labor, now gets an indulgent smile when I see him race away with a big orange tomato in his mouth.

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