Love is full of surprises

We got up at an unholy hour yesterday and hit the road early enough to miss the traffic, which meant we’d already been on the road for hours when we stopped for breakfast. Our last Cracker Barrel meal for the foreseeable future, and not a moment too soon. My arteries were starting to congeal. (That’s just my opinion, of course. The children’s opinion on Cracker Barrel is something like “HOORAY FOR SHOT-SIZED BOTTLES OF MAPLE SYRUP! CAN I CHUG IT?”)

Back here at the ranch, we began the post-vacation madness, the part where you wish you could take a vacation from your vacation. Actually, I was prepared for it to be much more drudgery than it turned out to be; in short order the camper had been emptied, four loads of laundry were complete, the garden was watered (two hours later, it rained, of course), the pool was clean, and the children were playing Mario Kart with glee, just as the good Lord intended.

I expected yesterday to be a grim march of chores, and instead it was downright pleasant, with everyone helping, and little bits of fun along the way.

Before we headed home, I had lamented to my chief garden caretaker than I feared there would be no tomatoes left for us on our return. She assured me there were a few waiting for us. (Leave it to me to obsess over my garden all spring and summer and then completely miss the harvest….) Later she told me that she was hoping I would be surprised, and hooboy, I was surprised.

That’s the biggest bowl I own, full to the brim. The kids and I picked and picked and picked some more, and that’s our haul AFTER we had to stop and sample each variety. There are some grape tomatoes hidden underneath, but you can see the plethora of Romas and a couple of Golden Jubilees.

Chickadee and I took a break from everything else yesterday afternoon and she helped me wash the tomatoes, dunk them in boiling water, plunge them into icy water, skin them, deseed, and freeze them. (Just the Romas. The rest are destined for salads this week.) I was struck once again at how much I love this age, where she offers to assist and is indeed a huge help. We chatted about the things we’ll cook this winter with our own tomatoes, and what all we can use the fresh ones for this month. I’m sure the pioneers did it just like this, putting up tomatoes with the help of their flat-top range, hard-anodized cookware, and Ziploc bags. (Also I’m certain that prepubescent girls in frontier times did so while begging their mothers to please please PLEASE make cucumber gazpacho again.)

Of course, the bounty of tomatoes wasn’t the only surprise in the garden. Everything seems taller and wider and like we were gone for a month instead of just a couple of weeks. And back when we originally planted, I sunk some watermelon seeds that never did sprout. (I have no idea why. Bum seeds? The birds ate them? Communist anti-watermelon plot?) I kept saying I’d buy more seeds, and I kept forgetting, and shortly before we left, Otto came home with a packet of seeds for me. They sprouted before we left, but I had no expectations.

I’ve got two plants in containers, growing down and around their housing, intertwining with the weeds below. I couldn’t believe how much they’d grown in the time we were gone.

And then I thought I saw something….

Yes, I’m sure I DID see something there….

Our very first watermelon! It’s already about 8″ long, and I almost missed it entirely. I wonder how big it’ll get.

It would be far too obvious to make a parallel life metaphor out of the watermelons, right? The first planting didn’t take, the second one is fruitful and surprised the hell out of me? It’s too easy. I shall refrain. Pretend I didn’t say anything.

(Oops!)

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Here’s to the surprises of life, big and small—from the small boy who sighs that his bed in the camper is SO SO COMFY and he’s never slept better in his life, to the rapidly-growing-up girl who is turning into a delightful young woman faster than I can keep up, to something as simple as an unexpected melon. I do love a good surprise, don’t you?

27 Responses to “Love is full of surprises”

  1. 1
    Emily July 9, 2009 at 11:42 am #

    Beautiful! Here’s to the unexpected melons of life!

  2. 2
    Mary July 9, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Woohoo! That watermelon looks wonderful!

    I planted a couple tomato plants next to my shed but left my expectations low since I’ve been warned that the deer eat everything anyone tries to grow anyway.

    Well, after I planted, the hubby decided to clean the shed with bleach (aren’t you the one whose husband also bleaches your cement garage floor??? Geesh!) so my tomato plant has grown to all of about 8″ tall, but there are actually two tomatoes growing on them! LOL! I must admit I’m quite afraid to actually eat them, though.

  3. 3
    Megan July 9, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    From When Harry Met Sally – “I knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon.”

    Only, I would hope, without the thumping for a hollow sound… these plant metaphors really need a close eye or they get out of hand!

  4. 4
    Scottsdale Girl July 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    I was so looking forward to fresh cukes and maters from my grandparent’s garden in a week or so and WHAM. Mother of all hail storms hits the mountainous regions and alas…nope. GAH!

  5. 5
    ~annie July 9, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    Oh, so that’s what it is: “Communist anti-watermelon plot.” I had grand plans for a watermelon patch this summer but only one seed sprouted, and very late at that. Maybe I’ll be able to carve it up for Halloween.

  6. 6
    Ariel July 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    I’ve planted watermelons a couple of times and they never ripened! They got HUGE but that was it. Annie’s right- I should have used them as funky Jack-o-lanterns…..

  7. 7
    MomCat July 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    Love those little surprises! It’s what life’s about. Enjoy your second, fruitful planting.

  8. 8
    meghann July 9, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    I’m a little grumpy. My watermelon plant, which I bought as a seedling over a month ago, isn’t nearly that big. And there isn’t a single sign of a watermelon yet. Hmph.

  9. 9
    dad July 9, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Is it Thursday aready? Welcome home.

    Only pioneer children from the most remote areas of Gaspachostan are confirmed to have begged their Mothers for cold cucumber soup.

    Your visit left me growing taller and wider too.

  10. 10
    Heidi July 9, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    May your melon be ever-growing. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

  11. 11
    Jen Ambrose July 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Oh, how fun! Now I want to grow some watermelons!

  12. 12
    dad July 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    post script: As your father, it is inappropriate for me to comment about melons.

  13. 13
    el-e-e July 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    I gasped when I saw it in the picture. Love! (Thursday!) Happy return to Georgia!

  14. 14
    Suzy Voices July 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Woohoo! Congrats on such a great bounty of tomatoes! Ours won’t be ready for a bit yet. And the watermelon is wonderful!! How exciting!!

  15. 15
    Katie in MA July 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    Yes, those are very sweet surprises indeed…but you have worked hard to cultivate them, our fabulous Mir. :)

  16. 16
    Ruth July 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Metaphors abound and I use them liberally; feel free to do so yourself–to me they help to explain things I cannot possibly put words to in any sort of coherent manner. Thanks for a tasty post!

  17. 17
    Heather July 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    I saw this recipe yesterday at letseattonight and thought of you. Know that i see you have oodles of maters, I thought I would share….Hope you and your family enjoy it. I am going to make it this weekend, hope i enjoy it too!

    Tomato Pie
    6 tomatoes
    Kosher salt
    Pepper (optional)
    1 (9-inch) pie crust
    8 bacon slices, chopped and cooked
    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
    1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 1/2 cups fancy shredded Italian cheese blend

    1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut tomatoes into slices, and place slices on paper towels. Sprinkle tomatoes with kosher salt and, if desired, pepper. Let stand for 15 minutes; then flip the tomatoes, and sprinkle with a little more salt. Let stand 15 more minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, place pie crust in pie plate; crimp edge of crust. Prick holes in crust with a fork; bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Layer half of tomato slices in prepared crust. Sprinkle with half of bacon and basil. Layer remaining half of tomatoes; sprinkle with remaining bacon.
    4. Combine mayonnaise, shredded cheese, and remaining basil in a small bowl. Spread mixture over top of tomatoes.
    5. Bake for 25 minutes.

  18. 18
    Heather July 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2009/07/tomato-pie.html

    giving proper credit where it is due….

  19. 19
    Kelly July 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    We didn’t do so well on our peas or zucchini – but we have tomatoes – finally turning red now (we’ve had like 100 green tomatoes on there just teasing). So any good tomato recipe you come across? Please share.

    We also have two cantaloupe growing – melons are interesting to watch – I had no idea about the vine and how it would work…

  20. 20
    Tracy July 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    What beautiful fruit. And your dad is too much I tell ya. He should blog as well. He simply cracks me up!

  21. 21
    jennifer July 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    I also love a good watermelon;) (And tomatoes, and grapes, and oranges, and… I’m making myself hungry.)

  22. 22
    Kate M July 9, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    How awesome. You have some kind of garden magic going!

    And Cracker Barrel syrup? As of a few months ago, it’s no longer 100% maple. Now nearly half is “cane syrup”. Now it’s only half as delightful.

  23. 23
    Mary July 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    I second the motion on Dad’s blog. Perhaps a contest to name the blog? Dada Coulda Shoulda?

  24. 24
    Brigitte July 10, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    I’ve been wondering if my daughter will inherit unexpected melons from the other side of the family . . sorry, too little sleep last night! :-p

  25. 25
    Danielle-Lee July 11, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    OH wow! I love tomatoes….but I only have the big boy variety. I think I need to try for the grape ones next season. The watermelon?? omg, so jealous! i always say i’m going to plant some watermelon seeds, but I’m afraid the vine will take over my whole yard. But now that I saw your watermelon, I really want to plant it next year!

  26. 26
    Cele July 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    Oh wow, your own watermelon, so worth the wait. Our tomatoes still haven’t come on.

  27. 27
    Chief Garden Caretaker July 12, 2009 at 9:49 pm #

    The Chief(tess?) is hoping they have that yummy cuke gazpacho tomorrow! :) Loved this! xo

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