Friday, July 30, 2010

They're HERE!

They have finally arrived.

Here's a column from a few weeks ago...

There’s an old Guy Clark song from the ’70s that epitomizes how I feel about homegrown tomatoes. If you haven’t heard it, you ought to. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. When I was a kid, my dad played that song over and over again on a jukebox in a local restaurant, much to the embarrassment of me and my brothers. I can’t imagine the other patrons liked it too much either. When you’re passionate about something, however, you don’t mind how it might annoy others.

“Ain’t nothin’ in the world that I like better

Than bacon & lettuce & homegrown tomatoes

Up in the mornin’ out in the garden

Get you a ripe one don’t get a hard one

Plant `em in the spring eat `em in the summer

All winter without `em’s a culinary bummer

I forget all about the sweatin’ & diggin’

Every time I go out & pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes

What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love & homegrown tomatoes

You can go out to eat & that’s for sure

But it’s nothin’ a homegrown tomato won’t cure

Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew

You can make your very own tomato juice

Eat `em with eggs, eat `em with gravy

Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy

Put `em on the side put `em in the middle

Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle

If I’s to change this life I lead

I’d be Johnny Tomato Seed

Cause I know what this country needs

Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see

When I die don’t bury me

In a box in a cemetery

Out in the garden would be much better

I could be pushin’ up homegrown tomatoes”

Well, they have arrived. They are out there in the garden. Sure, they’re green but they won’t be for much longer. They get a little bigger every day. There’s not a bug or a blight on them. The waiting is killing me.

I’ve enjoyed some local tomatoes already from the farmers market. They were delicious. They were, in fact nearly perfect. Big and red, a few heirlooms too, of various shapes and shades. Only trouble is they weren’t from my own garden.

In my own garden I can tend a little, pull a few weeds and gently tie the tomato vines to their stakes with pieces of old, torn T-shirts. In my own garden I can watch little seeds turn into little plants. I can watch the sun and the rain turn those little plants into big healthy plants that develop pretty yellow flowers. I can get that weird itch you get when you touch the leaves of the plants. I can water the plants with water from the rain barrel when it doesn’t rain enough.

When I was a kid, my dad always walked the garden with a salt shaker in his pocket, waiting for the first homegrown tomatoes to never make it to the kitchen.

Soon I’ll be complaining there are too many and we’d better get to freezing and canning them before it’s too late. Soon I’ll be leaving them on my neighbor’s porch when he’s not home.

In the meantime I’ll wait, salt shaker in hand, humming that silly old song about homegrown tomatoes.