I do believe this summer will go down in family history as the Summer of the Tomatoes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I do love me some tomatoes. But thanks to my husband’s plant selection and what must be a particularly optimal growing season (can you believe I haven’t seen a single tomato horn worm this year?) (knocking on wood; crossing myself; throwing salt over my shoulder; spitting twice), my tomato cup runneth over.
And so the course of my days has changed.
The weird thing is, I really kind of like it.
I used to get up, have coffee while dealing with email, and get right to work. I would work all day (minus fifteen interruptions from Monkey wanting to know what I was doing now, and did I want to play Wii with him instead, and was it time to go swimming yet?) (answers: still working, yes but no thank you, and just a few more minutes) and try to knock off early to swim with the kids and otherwise actually be present with my family, and then eventually it would be evening and then bedtime.
But now, that’s all changed.
I get up early and have my coffee, and then Licorice and I go outside to gather tomatoes.
Back inside, I do a little bit of work and then go deal with the tomatoes, cutting them up to roast with garlic and onions. I work for a few hours while they cook down, then take a break to pluck the withered skins off right after I pull them out of the oven. A little more work, and then they’re cool enough for the blender.
Poor Monkey; he loves the blender part. I think he’s spent a little too much time watching Will It Blend?; he seems to believe that if he watches me closely enough, maybe one day I’ll decide that my tomato sauce really needs a little bit of iPhone or lightbulb to finish it off. I am constantly disappointing him.
Eventually I put up the sauce and get everything labeled and put away. It tastes like summer and I’m already dreaming of pulling it out on cold, dreary days when the garden feels like a distant memory.
The kicker, of course, is that NEITHER of my children will eat pasta with sauce on it. Monkey’s issues mean he is not a food mixer; he will eat sauce, just not ON the pasta. He’ll eat it if you put it on the side, though. Chickadee just isn’t a huge fan of tomatoes, and claims she doesn’t like sauce at all. (Except on pizza, because pizza gets a pass for being pizza, one assumes.)
And I can’t eat wheat pasta, so even though I’ve been known to buy the gluten-free stuff, I don’t really eat much pasta, either.
Which kind of makes all of this tomato-labor seem a little… dumb. But I’m thinking… soups, chilis, etc. We’ll use it up somehow.
And there’s something about spending a portion of every day using my hands to preserve what we’ve grown that’s very soothing. I find that the closer the start of school gets, the more slowly and carefully I work, the more I savor the scent that hangs in the kitchen for the rest of the day.
There is meditation in a process I can follow, repeat, and that yields an unfailing bounty. I’ll miss it when fall arrives.