The First Tomato Is Just So Delicious
After the cold, windy spring, summer got off to a very slow start. In fact, there were a number of false starts before actually summery weather finally kicked in, but now it’s staying reliably warm even by night and the plants are loving it. The lasting chilI made me wonder if I’d even get any tomatoes this year but my grafted plants are sturdy and resilient. Strong and vigorous, they just keep chugging along despite whacky weather. They’re covered with flowers and I’ve been watching the fruit form with great anticipation. This week the first cherry tomatoes are finally ripe and I’m treating each one like a precious little garden gem.
A few years ago, I discovered a fabulous cherry tomato called Midnight Snack. Black skinned and plump, these little cuties have the best sweet-tart balance of any tomatoes I’ve tasted. They look so glossy and plump, it’s hard to wait until they’re truly ripe, but not until their skin turns matte and a bit dull purple-black are they at their peak of perfection. Mine are growing strongly on a triple-grafted plant along with Sungold, another favorite steady producer with reliably great flavor, even when not quite ripe. The third member of Team Tomato is Artemis, another lusciously tasty type with long clusters of fruit that stay pleasantly firm.
Beefsteak & Bees
Although this may not be the year for bigger tomatoes, my grafted Darkstar tomato is growing with alacrity and setting fruit generously. These initially tiny tomatoes are starting to size up, making me feel hopeful about getting enough to enjoy real BLT’s this summer. Darkstar is a beefsteak type with dusky purple skin and that tangy heirloom flavor that stands up to that smoky, peppery bacon flavor just fine, thank you. All of these lovelies are benefitting from the company of a large catmint that is abuzz with so many kinds of bees and other pollinators all day long.
The long, bountifully flowering catmint stems are companionably interlaced with the tomato stems so every visiting pollinator is tempted to stop in for a quick snack of nectar and pollen. Technically tomatoes are self fertile but the company of bees guarantees good fruit set and besides, it’s heart-lifting to watch them busy at work and hear their contented buzzing.
Stuck Is Just A Moment In Time
A month ago I started to write about the home front situation and just couldn’t say a word. Now, another corner has been turned and things are heading once again in the right direction. The turning point was a gift from a dear friend who studied martial arts with me and my kids many years ago. Now a happily retired physical therapist, our old friend has been coming by to help my daughter regain strength and balance. He brought skills and ideas but he also brought her a new kind of living hope. With a few words, he changed her perspective and that is changing everything.
She had been stuck because of damage to her core muscles (having a large, gut-deep midline incision will do that to a person). Whenever she tried to do the core exercises she had been given at the hospital, her ostomy bag would start leaking. Super frustrating especially because insurance only pays for 10 bags a month and if you need 11, you’re shit out of luck, as it were. Our beloved occupational therapist friend researched core exercises that would NOT dislodge the ostomy bag and that’s been helping dramatically.
Hope In The Body
However, the greatest gift came from our PT pal, who asked my daughter to stand up. She did, and he said, “More! Up! More, more!” and amazingly enough, each time he said “up” she got taller and taller. She’s 6’3” so the effect was quite remarkable. Then he started talking about core muscle memory, saying, “Your body knows how to move, how to stand tall, how to hold yourself in gentle strength.” As she listened, she began to move with grace in a way I haven’t seen in years. Later she talked about how hopeful that session felt, and it’s been obvious that she is tapping in to that body memory of how she used to stride with purpose and pleasure.
She also said that a lot of things that have been said about her path to recovery by various medical folks were sort of hopeful but didn’t work in her in the same way. Bill’s gift of hope was real because it was a reminder of what she already had gained, skills that were still present in her body and memory. There’s a fair amount of research that shows that when people truly remember how it feels to do something they enjoy, whether striding or hiking or skiing or whatever, our bodies are stimulated as if we had taken healthy exercise. This morning, she was walking uphill, still with a cane but so briskly that I had to stride to keep up. Onward is all we have but it doesn’t always feel like enough. But sometimes it does.