Friday, July 30, 2010
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.