Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nature Notes: Tomato Talk

Sorry I'm late. It's been one of those weeks. I didn't get a chance to stalk bugs or go swamp stomping this time, BUT ... I did find the first tomato!

Does that count?

Tomatoes hold a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, I lived on the banks of a river. Between the house level and the river, there was a wide bank, a ledge of rich soil where my grandfather had a vegetable garden. He grew corn, beans, peppers, melons, asparagus; all the usual summer crops were there. But the best of all were the tomatoes.

You see, in that garden Pop had a little stone shack that he'd built himself. There was a fireplace in it and one castoff easy chair that always faced the fire. There was a trap door over a small hole below the wooden floor for a glass jug of cold water, with a string through the handle for hauling it up. And on the work table under the sunny corner windows, just to the left of the fishing rods, there was always a tin mug for the water and a salt shaker for tomatoes picked straight off the vine. Many a happy morning was spent there with Pop in that tiny world apart.

And there was nothing like the taste of my grandfather's Big Boy tomatoes. The pop of the skin as your teeth broke the surface, the intense scent and tang of their flesh, and the gush of sweet juice, so much of it that some always escaped to dribble down your chin. Maybe they've been sweetened by nostalgia, or maybe we can't grow them like that anymore, but I have never since tasted tomatoes as luscious as those were.

Needless to say, when I spotted these sturdy Big Boy plants in a garden center three weeks ago, there was no question that they were coming home with me. Never mind that we were still getting snow, and that I would have to defend them against the cat for however long it took for the weather to settle. Too bad for the hubby who didn't want them, too. The Big Boys went in the cart, alongside a couple of cherry tomatoes and a rosemary plant, the first of my herb-garden-to-be.

All of them currently reside in the ruined roasting pan I told you about at Thanksgiving, which has proven to be an excellent thing for holding plants and for hauling them in and out of the house until they can be set out for the season.

The little tomato in the photo is only the size of a large marble. Still, it was a moment of pure pleasure to find it there. I know Pop would have smiled too.

Michelle, thanks so much, again for hosting this meme. And thanks especially this week for featuring Havenwood in your blog!

Here's the link back to the main event, everybody. Please play along next time!

Click Here: Nature Notes.


Sylvia K said...

Oh, and I do love tomatoes! I hope you have a great crop this year! Fun post, enjoyed reading it!

Anonymous said...

You're welcome Vicki..but your post got a lot of people thinking about pussy willows....and this post took me back to my cabin days and the fresh tomatoes that we would have every day and you're right, you can't buy them. Hopefully you will be able to grow them. You know..maybe I will try that too. See.. More inspiration.. Michelle

RJ Flamingo said...

When I was a little kid, my dad always planted a garden every year at the side of our house: tomatoes, radishes, carrots, turnips, etc. - but oh, those tomatoes! I posted about my 2009 tomatoes on my other blog, Flamingo Musings, just a couple of days ago. Good luck with yours!

sallyacious said...

I don't get to grow tomatoes this year. They'll start to ripen right about the time I'm moving across the country. I'll miss them.

I enjoy everything about growing tomatoes: the anticipation when they start showing up on the vine, the smell of the plants, the taste of the fruit, all of it.

Lucky you.

Carletta said...

I'd love a tomato and mayo sandwich right about now! :)
What a lovely rememberance you have.
Yes, Big Boy's are the best! That's what my Dad raised.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I commented the other day that my computer lucks up when I try to go on Marace. Well now I think its my computer sorry. That was a nice picture of the tomato. I love gardening I grow Big Boy tomato too. Have to go Bye Bye Ed

Kiva said...

Congratulations Vicki! I'm still waiting to see a tomato on my plants -- they don't know if it's spring, summer or winter here!

~ Lor said...

My parents grow Big Boys every year and you're right, they are the best! MMm....drooling right now just thinking about them :)

MyMaracas said...

Sylvia, Thanks! Tomatoes are among life's greatest pleasures.

Michelle, I hope you do try them! There are these hanging tomatoes now too, like a hanging basket affair, that look really easy.

RJ, thanks for the link! I enjoyed your post there.

Sally, I'm sorry you'll be missing tomato season. If all goes well, maybe I can bring you some of mine.

Carletta, you sound like me. I've been craving tomatoes ever since I posted this. LOL

Ed, I'm sorry you're having trouble! Is anybody else unable to link over to Maraca? Please send email if so.

Kiva, it's so nice to have you back! I hope your hiatus was a productive one.

Lor, I think they're the best too, though I'm sure there are lots of other varieties that rock. Anybody have any others we should try?