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July 6, 2009

Happiness is a Red Tomato

Image: Flickr/Ajith Kumar

Image: Flickr/Ajith Kumar

Hello readers,

I’ve been out of touch for a while because frankly, I just haven’t felt much like writing. I haven’t felt much like doing anything at all, and I figured that I would spare you from the whiny, neurotic little pouter that I turned into for a couple of days.

Well, life snapped me out of my self-made prison today. It took me by the shoulders, turned me around, and made me stare face to face with the most glorious thing on the planet. A single, solitary, red tomato from my very own garden.

Well, it isn’t actually MY garden. I am a sharecropper for my widower neighbor, Mr. JD, who loves to garden but can’t do the physical work anymore because of his parkinson’s disease and his age. So, he provided the seedlings and the kids and I do the work.

I’ve never grown anything in my life before. This is not hyperbole. I’m dead serious. Houseplants under my care have never lived more than a week. I must omit some secret and deadly aroma that makes plants wilt – that, or they just know that I feel incapable and so they die just to prove a point. Then they laugh at the gates of plant heaven at the moronic woman staring at their little carcasses and scratching her head.

So when JD asked us if we wanted to do this garden thing, I reluctantly said yes because I thought it would be good for the kids. Just like a family pet, this would be a great way for them to learn responsibility. They dug the holes and were a great help…for about a week. Then, like the proverbial “family” puppy, this one became all mine. I’ve done my research and been overwhelmed with advice that seems to contradict itself. I’ve debated about which kind of mulch to use and I’ve fretted about the stupid chipmonks that I see stealing the seeds right out of the ground. Each day, I do something wrong according to plant wisdom, and am surprised that they are still around to take the punishment.

In the end, despite my best efforts to kill them, these tomato plants have produced fruit. They are absolutely full of luscious, ripe, green tomatoes and today – as I opened my door to greet the day, one lovely red one seemed to be smiling right at me.

I grinned like a cheshire cat and ran back into the house to show everyone. Brandon raised one eyebrow and said, “I don’t like tomatoes.” But his lack of enthusiasm couldn’t squelch mine. I was totally entranced by this little gem and I just looked at it for a very long time. What an incredible thing just came out of the ground! And I helped!

In my joy, I forgot all about being depressed and remembered why it’s good to be alive. Then I sliced up my sphere of wonder and spent a moment in Nirvana. And as I did, I found myself wondering…is it too late to plant more?

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