The Thrill is Gone.


I am up to my ears in tomatoes. I hate my garden. I can barely stand to go out and look at it.

I’ve put up quarts and quarts of diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, plain tomato sauce, and ketchup, and I still have a half bushel of dead ripe tomatoes staring at me every time I walk into the kitchen. Tomorrow morning I will go out and pick another load, but these will go into “care packages” for some of my coworkers. Whether they want them or not.

My cucumbers failed me this year; a fungus of some sort killed most of them in early July, but not before I canned enough dill and bread&butter pickles to last two years. I see my peppers decided to go all out just now, but they’re easy to chop and freeze.

When I plotted out my garden, planted seeds and plants, all I could think of was sweet, fresh vegetables to eat every day and put up for winter use.  I was out every day, hoeing, mulching, watering, pulling even the tiniest weed to keep my garden healthy and pristine.   I was the first person in the neighborhood to plant a garden, the first to gather new potatoes, the first to triumphantly hold up a red tomato like a trophy.  The first snap pea was eaten directly from the vine, as was the first cucumber and the first tomato. We would have dinners consisting of  sweet corn from a local grower, sliced tomatoes, wilted cucumber salad, and new potatoes boiled then browned in butter and sprinkled with dill weed from the garden.

But it didn’t take long before we got really REALLY tired of eating the fruits of our labor…the weather got hot, I started a new job, and knowing that there would be tomatoes to eat–again–made me  regret planting the garden. I stopped weeding the darn thing, watering it only if it hadn’t rained in a few days, and prayed it would just go away.  But I look out there now, and see red spots under the tomato plant leaves, and cucumbers deciding  to give it one more try and blossoming like crazy. In a few short weeks, hopefully, we’ll get a frost and I will have “forgotten” to cover the plants to protect them.  But not before I pick most of the green tomatos and make green pasta sauce and pickled green tomatoes.  Then, with great pleasure, I will pull up the dying plants and weeds, till up the dirt and mulch, and wait for next spring when I’ll go through the same routine, as I have for the past 35 years.

  Guess I’ll never learn.

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