Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Tomato Plant on the Deck

Who inspires me? Who moves me and touches my heart? Whose life and words and deeds keep feeding my eternal hope in life’s glorious promise?

Well, mostly children. A slight preference for three-year olds and eighth-graders, but really I’m blessed with daily reminders from all ages of the imagination’s infinite possibilities, the heart’s small acts of kindness, the mind’s incessant probing, the body’s eloquent expression, the spirit’s strength and resilience. These days, much parallel inspiration from 90-year olds singing with me around the piano. And then there are the people I meet in another realm— the poets, the musicians, the crusaders for social justice.

But lately I have a new hero. It’s the tomato plant on my back deck. Most San Franciscans know that if you live in the Inner Sunset, there’s little hope for growing a decent tomato. Simply not enough warmth and sun. There’s a variety called “fog tomato,” but it’s pretty dismal and not worthy pinning any hopes on. But somewhere in my wife’s gardening adventures, she put a tomato plant on our back deck and we were both so surprised this Fall to see it producing actual red tomatoes. Small and not many, but not bad tasting. We harvested our meager crop for a salad back in October and that was a San Francisco triumph.

But lo and behold, the plant keeps producing! Here it is January and there’s a few green ones and one red one. And so I am moved by its tenacity, its strength to defy expectations and keep tomatoing for all it’s worth. Thoreau famously wrote that he fell in love with a shrub oak and so I’m adding my story to the legacy of human/plant romance and writing this little love letter to my tomato plant on the back deck. Keep going, baby!

Any one for salad?

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