Ah… the garden tomato. Poets have sung their praises for eons. Kings have founded dynasties on the geography of their happiness. The gods bend low to share their glory with us when the ripe fruit kisses our tongues.
Well maybe not really. But it seems that way. And they should.
This summer was brutal for my tomato crop. We managed to grab a handful of those tasty red beauties in June before the blaze of summer put an end to it. I had decided to grow some different heirloom varieties, leaving my usual “Early Girl” out of the mix. Well THAT proved to be a costly mistake. In Western Kentucky you need to get that first crop out of the garden and into the BLT before the blast of high heat slams the door.
In July I checked almost daily for those little green pearls to appear in the blossoms. Only later did I learn from a fellow tomatista that the high temperature was putting the k-bosh to the whole process. “They just won’t set at all once it gets above 95,” he announced. A fruitless search indeed.
Maybe the bees get lethargic. July and August simmer down here somewhere just shy of the boiling point and everything… the river, the clouds, the air, yes even time itself melts into a haze that perfectly matches my mental acuity. Somewhere long about September the cool air draws me out of that languid dreamless sleep and I come alive again.
Its early October and I’ve been reasonably conscious for several weeks now. My memory is alive. The flavor returns of that one, single Black Krum heirloom tomato we harvested before both my tomato plants and I went off to the nether regions of heat related delirium. Stefanie and I once shared that tomato in all its transcendent deliciousness. The desire to relive that experience sharpens as I wait on the plump green fruit hanging from my re-energized tomato plants to show signs of transforming. I search for a blush in the green as I begin to reckon on the frost.
As the days shorten the heat I once cursed for abusing all that is vivacious becomes a precious resource for turning my fat green tomatoes red. Please! Allow me just ten more toasty days so that I may kiss the glory once more! For hark! I see the long winter parade of mediocre tomatoes emerging from Kroger on their resolute path towards me.