This year, the garden has produced with utter abandon, and with little help from me.
I never realized I just needed to plant it, then get out of the way. I didn’t get the memo. The honey bees did their work, the sun shone generously, and I stopped by occasionally to supply a little water when rain was scarce. That’s it.
In May, I planted twice as many tomatoes as we could eat. One, because that’s just what you do if you’re a vegetable gardener, and two, in years past, half the crop was pillaged by squirrels and chipmunks.
Who can explain this mystery? When I was too preoccupied with the trials of life to pamper my garden, the pillagers had gone quiet.
Thus, our tomato crop has been giving and giving, far beyond our ability to eat them.
And to punctuate the mystery, they’ve never tasted better.
My Mom and I communed on the terrace this summer, enjoying slices of tomato, mayo and salt and pepper, held together with slices of bread. It was a double napkin lunch to be sure, as the glorious juices were more than the bread could contain.
Mom had a great love for homegrown tomatoes.
Alas, she was a woman of very specific food passions. Her ultimate breakfast was what she referred to as a ‘sticky bun’ (aka: cinnamon roll), and black coffee. Though she sampled sticky buns from many fine bakeries, her favorite remained those from our local Stop and Shop. One day, I ran into the baker filling the racks. I passed on my Mom’s review. She beamed. I don’t think she received this sort of feedback frequently.
Our last lunch together, Mom ate a generous plate of smoked salmon, another delicacy in her opinion. She always ordered it with “all the fixins” and happily layered the salmon atop pumpernickel, cream cheese and capers. It took time to build it to her liking, and she told me, with a twinkle in her eye, that I would have to be patient. No salmon would be wasted.
Today I cut open the most magnificent tomato, and made sandwiches, thinking of her. I wondered if there are tomatoes in heaven.
There must be. It is one of the most delicious of God’s creations. God said he’d prepare a table for us in heaven, so surely he has provided Mom with her favorite foods through all eternity.
As I eat my perfect tomato sandwich, she feels so far away.