The Last of the Garden Tomatoes

Weekend Meditation

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I'm usually all about letting go and accepting what is and finding appreciation in whatever the current circumstances are offering. Week after week, month after month, for years this is what I've been exploring here in the Weekend Meditation post. So it's a little out of character for me to be so mopey about the end of summer. Maybe I didn't get enough sunshine in while it was here? Spent too much time in front of the computer writing these crazy essays instead of getting out there and frolicking amongst the tomatoes and zucchini? Whatever happened, I am now looking at the last four garden tomatoes rolling around on my kitchen table and feeling honest to goodness sadness that this is pretty much it.

Not too far away, over on the sideboard, there's some knobby winter squash — deep, streaky green on the outside and an amazing shade of golden yellow within — and a few of the first persimmons from our tree. Hardly second fiddle produce, these, with their promise of beauty and deliciousness, the perfect tastes and flavors of fall which, by the way, happens to be my favorite time of year. These are the things that I actually crave this time of the year so there is no lack of promise here, no bitter compromise.

Still, I must own up to my tomato sadness as I slice up the last of them for a final, epic BLT (nothing fancy: just bacon, romaine, Hellman's/Best mayo and thick juicy slices of tomato on toast). The more I think about it, the more accepting I am of this sadness. It helps me to appreciate the tomatoes even more, puts a nice punctuation on their final meal. It makes sense that I'm bummed about their demise for a summer tomato is one of the reasons why life on planet earth is so glorious.

It's an old chestnut, but it's true: the finite, limited run of homegrown tomatoes only heightens my pleasure in them. Like asparagus in spring and those autumnal persimmons, they define the season for me. I actually would not want them to become a year round staple, as ubiquitous as an onion or broccoli, even if they could. (Which we know they can't, as anyone who has eaten a winter tomato is well aware of.)

Living a more awake and engaged life means that all the stuff — good and bad, pleasurable and difficult, joyful and sad — is experienced in a richer, more deeply felt way. Not just the happy bits, but all of it. The beauty of a tomato in full season and the saying goodbye to it equally felt, equally significant; light and dark interwoven and interdependent, the one not fully possible without the other.

(Image: Dana Velden)

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