Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This Week (The Final Tomato Harvest)

I don’t want to work.

This is like slogging through mud.

I can’t think.

I’ll go check Facebook.

I opened my browser, typed in Facebook. I usually keep myself signed out so that I won’t be as tempted to check it, but it doesn’t take long to type an email and password.

I hesitated. 

Go harvest the last of your tomatoes.

I don’t want to.

The frost is going to kill them. The vines look terrible. Just go clean up the bed.

But Facebook is easier. 

You want to be a gardener, don’t you? Then don’t let those tomatoes go to waste.

But it’s so much easier to scroll through my newsfeed and feel sad about the world.

Go outside, Shafter.

I sighed. I dawdled, my fingers on the keyboard. 

Then I shut my computer, pulled on a sweater, grabbed the pruning shears and left Facebook inside. 

Two hours later, I was sweaty, covered in spatters of mud, fingernails black with compost, hands itching from handling the tomato vines. A huge pile of green and half-ripe tomatoes sat inside on the countertop, and the yard had undergone transformation. The tomato vines were chopped up and thrown in the compost heap. I had (with Francis’s help) dragged four straw bales into a square to create a tiny winter garden, layering the inside with straw and compost. I laid an old window from our garage over the top. I scattered spinach and carrots seeds inside, to see if anything will grow. The sun made the wet straw glisten. 

I discovered powdery mildew on my apple trees’ trunks, and hosed it off then surrounded them with a more breathable rabbit guard. I put the tomato cages in the garage. I scrubbed dirt off the shovel. I sheet-mulched a weedy bed, and watered all my fruit crops with a sludgy mix of compost and ice-cold hose water. I immersed myself in the work of my hands, dirt and straw and sprawling stems of smartweed. I brushed by my rose plant, a volunteer, and pink petals fluttered down to the grass.

Inside, I chopped up the ripest of the tomatoes for sauce and put the rest on the windowsill. I ate pasta with kale for lunch. When I washed the dishes, my hands stung from pulling weeds.

The next morning, the ground was covered in frost, but my green tomatoes were tucked away on the windowsill, pressed against the foggy panes in hopes of one last ripening from the sun.


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