Tomato season is here

The seasons seem to come in life whether we are ready for them or not ready for them. This week we laid in the ground a dear friend who would have celebrated his 69th wedding anniversary. Our hearts feel a certain gravity even though the season of life’s winter had been long.  Why is it so hard to believe another life has left us?  We are perfectly fine with season changes in the year but seasons of life are hard to grasp. 

Tomato season is here. For years the sign of ripe tomato meant that school was in session. For the first time in 19 years school isn’t as big a deal in this house. Yet I know for other households it might be a really big change. 

The smells of salsa and spaghetti sauce use to be the backdrop for book learning to begin for my homeschooled daughters. They might take a break and help me. Or I would get beautiful music to work by, as they practiced their cello or violin during my kitchen duties. Through  those years of schooling I enjoyed their presence so much. When the springtime of their lives  suddenly turned to summer, and my fall was left with silence during tomato season…  Well, I cried. 

The first fall they were both off to college marked the beginning of a new season for me. My drivers license was no longer in my wallet. My peripheral vision had digressed to a point that the central vision was also deteriorating and the eye doctor would not sign for a drivers license exemption. This event was simultaneous to our empty-nest season. 

Though this may have been untimely, I knew that I didn’t want to suffer a traumatic car accident. So I accepted this change of season. But the inability to release myself from loneliness at my girls absence from home soon began to feel like a prison sentence. My pain seemed magnified. I missed my girls, I missed my ability to drive, I missed schooling at home and now it was tomato season. So I cried. 

After a couple of years the season got a bit better and I asked my husband to help me in the evenings and weekends. That went better for me as I had a new tomato buddy!  Then last year a new season arrived. Illness. God chose to allow me to have pleurisy. Thankfully it was not the sign of any other physical ailment and the viral pleurisy would run its course for about seven weeks. Right through tomato season. So then I missed my girls, I missed home schooling, I missed being able to do anything.  And now I missed tomato season, too! I would have cried but I hadn’t the air or breath to do so. 

People quite frequently use to ask me one question in particular as this season came. “Wouldn’t my girls miss out on all the stuff that school children got to do?” My answer was always the same. There is always something to be missed. Perhaps we felt that those school children were missing out on the kind of life we lived. 

So this tomato season has arrived and I vowed it should be a good one. Canning and putting up produce is supposed to be a harvest celebration. Something like the feast of the harvest moon or whatever! My husband’s favorite thing about harvest is spending a few hours in the combine with his brother. My first daughter’s favorite thing about fall was seeing the jars of sauces multiply before her very eyes. My second daughter seems to enjoy the camera worthy moments of discovery that occur in hunting for the vegetables. The photo above and the video below were both done by Lennea.  My favorite thing might be reminiscing about all the animal harvest stories. 

Lady was our first puppy. As a black Labrador retriever, we thought she was fitting her name. Until she discovered the garden. I would consider the cucumbers and other produce and try to leave them until the perfect ripeness. Then they would disappear. I soon began to wonder who was stealing my best slicing cucumbers -Lady of course!  I finally caught her sneaking back to the garden after I had gone into the house. She also stole rhubarb, green beans, and green tomatoes. 

Lady left us the year Yolanda went to college. Many others can tell the same story of the family pet whose heart is unable to survive the favored friend leaving home. This too is a season of life. Bil Kerne said, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift from God, that is why we call it the  present.” We remember our dear ones of the past. But it’s those present still who are God’s gifts to us now.

Our favorite animal for the harvest no-goods, ones the bugs or rabbits found, is probably Cocoa.  He is our no good horse or rather our good for nothing pony. Our chore boy!  The reason we have chores. Cocoa is so excited when we start spring gardening. He whinnies and snickers just yards from our work area. And he is never very far away whenever I weed or cleanup garden mess. He believes we plant the garden for him. It is his noisy consumption of any no-good-for-canning produce that gives us endless laughter and enjoyment. 

Tomato season is here. God’s gift of tasty goodness, no matter the season of life.

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