The time will come – somewhere in the stark, icy blast of winter – when I will miss them. The summertime bounty of my tomato garden will be a favorite memory. My mouth will water as I remember reaching toward the sticky/fuzzy plants in our back yard and plucking my taste buds’ desire from the vine.
I’ll close my eyes as I imagine biting into it. Seedy juice. Tart-sweet tingles of flavor as sinfully irresistible as any temptation grown on Eden’s forbidden tree.
I will lick my lips and recall the texture and pith of each mouthful: cavernous webs of tomato-y delight collapsing against my teeth.
But it’s early August in Missouri right now. My dinner table has been smothered with compulsory slices of homegrown tomatoes for week after weary week. They lay limp and lackluster amid gelatinous juices, one atop the other in a mushy mound.
The pristine condition of those first ripe tomatoes has passed. Now my platter is a Dali painting of slices whose flesh has been mercilessly gouged to remove late summer blemishes caused by insect, bird, turtle and raccoon assaults.
“Why did we plant so many this year?” we ask each other as our forks dissect and deliver our daily obligatory serving for the day.
The tomato juices on my plate are a rivulet of infiltration; they ooze against my mashed potatoes. Sluice into the bottom of my meatloaf. Sog my biscuits with a pinkish pallor.
Each August morning, I fumble through the glut of newly-picked tomatoes that line my windowsill. I make judicious selections at to their fate. The squishiest are tossed into the trash; the plopping sound they make as they hit bottom is satisfying.
Tomatoes that still look edible are gathered up and packed away in limp grocery bags and designated for delivery.
“These are for Sylvia at work,” I mumble. “I’ll give these to Donna at church.” Like a Red Cross relief worker, I feel a noble sense of fulfillment as I share my tomato wealth with those less blessed. My conscience knows, though, that I’m just trying to get rid of my surplus. Sure. I could preserve the tomatoes for later in the year. I could can and jar and freeze and concoct a plethora of paste-y sauces to be enjoyed long into the future. But I am spoiled and sick of the sight of so many tomatoes; the thought of cooking and packing them gives me indigestion. I want the tomatoes to be gone now. I pray for frost. When winter comes and I’m dreaming of a perfectly ripe, red tomato whose flavor can only be developed in the ground of a family garden I may regret each wasteful thought and deed of the past summer. My dull taste buds may twinge in fond remembrance, wishing for just a bite or two of a sun-warmed tomato, fresh from the vine. But right now, with bullying crowds of Big Boys and Pink Girls piled atop every counter in the kitchen, my only thoughts are of sheepish tomato distribution to unsuspecting friends and trash-lobbing tomato-cide.
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Contact Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org