I get so much more from my tomato plant than tomatoes.
Solace, memories, vitamin C.
When I was a kid, one of my earliest memories was my dad's gardens. He grew up in Boyd, Wisconsin, during the Great Depression and gardens were vital, particularly for my grandparents who had five boys.
I was three when I can first remember a memory with an age. (Brain science tells us we can't have a memory of something unless we have language to go along with it. You can't remember a tree if you don't know the word "tree.")
There were two patches, one for an array of vegetables that failed season after season. Critters supped before we could get them. The second patch was solely for tomatoes, which we ate at every lunch and every dinner this time of year.
Both mom and dad usually preferred their tomatoes sliced as an accompaniment, with just a little salt and pepper. Every night so long as it lasted.
For lunch during this time of summer, it was often just tomato sandwiches. Mom toasted bread, layered tomato slices on the bread, sprinkled salt on them and then slathered the other slice of bread with mayo. (My mom used Miracle Whip -- which is not mayo. I use mayo, in fact I go online and order Duke's, something I found in my time in North Carolina. I also add freshly ground pepper to the tomatoes.) When I was in Burlington, NC, the newspaper had a yearly tomato sandwich day, with the tomatoes grown by the father of our features editor, Charity Apple. Best name ever.
In my teens, my dad asked me to be the one to water the tomato patch. He had been warming the water in old times because wisdom was cold water shocked the plants. As he aged, he became more relaxed about gardening efforts -- as we all do. But he asked me to water at dusk so the fluid would have less evaporation. And he told me to "soak the shit out of them." So at 6 p.m. every night, I'd take the hose out and water the entire patch for 45 minutes. Those were good tomatoes.
Some nights in the summer, we had tomato sandwiches and sweet corn.
Saturday, I plan on that for dinner and I'm adding locally grown cantaloupe for dessert.
Ah, the bounty of summer.
Peace unto Ukraine and peace and corn and tomatoes and cantaloupe unto you my brothers and sisters. Also radishes. And Daikon. And new potatoes. And ...