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It takes a world of patience to get it like you want, vine-ripened!

Hiding coyly in the foliage.
Hiding coyly behind the foliage.


There is an old country song that I like to hear, it’s John Denver singing, ” Two Things That Money Can’t Buy, True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes”,   a person can consider themselves Blessed if they ever have either one.    Lately I have taken to leaving the garden with a fat, red tomato in hand, heading for the kitchen and lunch.  I can’t think of a faster or easier lunch than a tomato sandwich, the tomato still warm from the Sun.  People have fooled around with them for years trying to improve what can’t be made better.  The simplicity is part of the joy.  Two pieces of white sandwich bread, best on Sunbeam if you have it, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Cut a thick slice from the middle of your tomato, slap some mayonnaise on the bread, position the tomato in the center, salt and pepper to taste, put on the lid.  Holding it carefully between two hands, carry it to the back porch and eat it thoughtfully as you survey the coming afternoon.  Your first homegrown tomato sandwich will be the very best one of the year, you’ll tell the neighbors about it, casually bring it up at the grocery store while standing in line,  let the lady where you buy your books in on it.  Oh, yes, it’s called bragging, but it is also a fact that wants to be known.

You can’t buy a homegrown tomato, you might can purchase one raised by someone else, but your own takes a certain amount of planning and yes, work.  When you set that baby plant in the ground, you are already planning that sandwich.  This is called delayed gratification,  you are going to have to wait for it.  The love and care you lavish on that plant will be your reward later, that delicious sweet tanginess in your mouth could be called gratitude, you’re so glad you did just this one little thing, you planted that plant.   Towards the end of Summer you will most likely grow a little tired of them, the first twenty or so will take the edge off your craving, and it’s time to either start freezing or canning for the winter soups and sauces.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First loves and tomato sandwiches have several things in common.  There is excitement, sweetness, and anticipation of something marvelous about to happen.  You know it won’t last forever but you don’t care, it’s what you want and you want it now, all the goodness, all the joy, all messiness that comes with both.  You know there will be other loves, and other sandwiches but not now, not right now, this is the one you’ve been waiting for, the one they sing songs about.  Well, I’ve only heard one song about homegrown tomatoes, but you get my drift.  There is certainly one thing that is a major difference, while you have to work for the tomato,  true love can only be a gift.  You can’t make it happen, you can’t work hard enough to make it bloom, you can’t take it by force or manipulation.  It is a Gift, sweet and pure, given by God through another person, or perhaps through yourself.   There is not enough gold in the World to buy a First True Love and while the years may tarnish some memories and possessions grow old and photographs fade, that first love remains as a shining light in your heart.  You can always grow another Homegrown Tomato,  there will only be one First True Love.

There is another measure of True Love that I always remember:    Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it doesn’t boast.   It is not proud, it doesn’t dishonor others.  It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always  perseveres.    Love never fails.               Corinthians  13:   4-8

This is a day that has been custom-made for the joy of all who care to share in it.  An endless, deep blue sky, the enticing yet elusive scents of spring float through the air, leading me deeper away into garden, instead of preparing for work.  I could lose myself in the dozens of tiny chores and tasks that a day like today can bring to my attention.  A handful of new weeds here, a branch sticking out to catch my hair that could be pruned, the grass looks a bit ragged over there, leaves that could have been moved in the fall…..on and on until I look up and behold!  The morning is gone and I have got to go with it.  My work as a custom designer at retail garden center leaves me wearied at the end of the day, but only because I pour so much of myself into it.  I am that odd person who truly loves her work and is blessed to have it close to home.  The Farm where I spend my Time is only six miles from my house through country roads, bordered by pastures and woodlands, bursting alive with the pastels of Spring.  The cattle and horses that occupy the pastures are in deep, lush grass that a mere week or so ago lay flat and brown on the surface, sheep, goats and llamas are too busy munching to look up as I pass.  It’s all humming and buzzing with the chorus of New Life, especially as I cross the small bridge over Lewis Creek, the froggies are a-courting, uh-huh.  I am grateful to the Master of the Universe for allowing me the privilege of enjoying  His Domain as I pass through the Farm Gates to enjoy another day of work.

Springtime in the South is always a little edgy, like Springtime everywhere it is a time of wild planning and and Spring fever. Just as you want to jump up and tackle a new project, another will catch your fancy and you’re off on a different course. A hundred things begging to be done and only me to do them. The garden, the flower beds, the pruning, the mulching, the Chicken Condo, all looking for attention. It makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it. A good Spring Cleaning is what the Doctor ordered and exactly what we got. For days moving on into weeks the Metro Atlanta area has been choking under sulfur-yellow clouds of pollen, that by-product of our beautiful flowering trees. We’ve always had an inordinate pride in our tree canopy, in the city itself it is unlawful to cut any tree without permission. We have in North Georgia a wonderful mix of oaks, hickories, sweetgums and the ubiquitous Southern Yellow pine. The stars of the Southern Landscape however, are our Dogwoods and Redbuds, those lovely beings that along with the azaleas and quince brighten our woodlands and roadsides. Pear, peach, plum, apple, blackberry all bursting and exploding with color and joy of living. And pollen, tons of pollen. Clouds, waves, drifts and tsunami of pollen. Everything sporting a bloom is throwing it’s special come-hither fragrance and pheromone to the wind, hoping to entice and seduce the bees and other pollinators to stay and visit for a spell. A little booty-shaking by the bee and the job is done, all set for the year and Mother is pleased. This still leaves the pollen to cling to everything, grass, pets, clothes, vehicles, porches. Porches! When I swept mine the other morning, such clouds rose with each pass of the broom that I went back inside leaving the broom outside. That day the pollen count was 5,733. Our record is right at 6,000. News helicopters flying over the city showed thick clouds of yellow “fog”, barring from view the streets and houses below.
Once again, heart felt prayers were answered, and we got rain. Such a wonderful rain. No hail. No high winds, no tornadoes. Just a sweet soaking rain that swept the sky blue again, the streets and houses clean of yellow dust and the air to crystal purity. This is the sort of Spring morning that makes the little calves kick up their heels, the baby colts frisk about, the Rooster in the pen to prance and preen, taking credit for it all. Like allergy suffers through out the area, I am over-joyed at the feel, the taste and the scent of Spring in the air. The Sparkle of Sunshine on freshly washed new leaves, still decked in their pastel greens and pinks, the glitter of broken light flashing from puddles of rainwater, the riot of birdsong carried on the breeze have me popping with energy this morning. And, Lord knows, there is plenty to do.

Spring has come with a mighty rush to the red clay hills of North Georgia. Last week we were still living with the ragged remains of a seemingly endless Winter, this week we are basking under benevolent Southern Skies. The Crabapples and Plum trees are in full foam and the Dogwoods and Redbuds are not far behind. These are our glorious assurances that the cold time has receded for another year, we may see a few recurrences of frost and even a flurry or two. We’re good with that, the tipping point has been reached, there is no going back. It’s time to take the garden tools from the shed, wheel them to the old, battered Winter garden and stand and gaze. It’s not the weeds rampaging over sunken beds and tired winter crops of collards, kale and turnips we see. But new, freshly made raised beds, neat rows of rich, bright red soil, shining leaves of vigorous, healthy plants and the bright sun striking sparks from the dew-drops that bejewel every bloom. We are looking at the buckets and baskets that overflow with bounty, green beans, juicy red tomatoes, peppers of every size, color and scoville units and those darlings of my heart, fresh baby peas that taste like candy on the tongue. So many never make it to the kitchen as they are consumed on the spot. All of this happens in 15 or 20 minutes, this dreaming of the Garden that is yet to be. It is the Dreaming, the laying out of invisible-to-the-eye plots and beds that really creates the future of the garden. The Dream comes first, it is the outline, the reality follows in due time. Without the Dream it is only a weed covered patch of land. The Dream brings it to life and I am the Dreamer who will help the Master Gardener bring it to fruition.When you truly love, it shows.

December 2021

Sustainable Living in a Disposable World

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Sandi White

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