This is my morning in story form…this is for My son who asked me to “read it again at bed time”. And for Elizabeth…
Today was harvest day. The tomatoes needed to be pulled. Not for their succulent red skin but for the blight that had ravaged almost every speck of green from the stems. The large tomatoes hung low on the yellowed and brown dotted branches. Every day branches fell, blackened, leaving the plant strangely scraggly and heavy. The tomatoes were a good size. Some were huge. Only the smattering of tomatoes that had set after the blight had took hold were pale and tiny.
The sky was dark – strangely dark even for early morning. It was going to rain. It had rained for most of July and August. On top of that August had been cool. No Indian summer yet. If it warmed up for September then September would be our “Summer”, period.
I gently laid a tomato into the bushel basket. I had lost my hand clippers and was trying to make do with a pocket saw and lopers, one too big and the other too rough. The job of cutting tomatoes was going slow. If there was any thought of trying to save the plant it was lost in the rough hacking away.
The harvest was not a total loss. Green tomatoes make excellent sauce and salsa. I would only need to buy a bushel or less of red to make it. That really was good. “Can’t expect too much on first year sod”, that’s what Pa Ingalls would say. Our little patch did all right for itself. This garden would put up a fair number of jars of sauce and salsa. If I could stave off the blight and powdery mildew from the winter squash we would have a bumper crop of squash. Pickles were feeding us at present and would continue to do so into the cooler months.
Thunder rumbled. Another storm. The rain came like the sound of a wave growing louder and fading away as it passed. I heard it in the tree tops. I looked up. It sounded like a street car coming down our dirt path. I looked up again. I knew it was the sound of coming rain but I looked up anyway, still expecting to see a car cruising by. I smiled. Fooled again. I made it a game. Head down I picked tomatoes, trying to see how long I could keep picking without looking to the trees. The sound kept coming in waves. Each time I looked up. Fooled.
Then the rain drops fell. At first they were timid drops. I wondered if it would even truly rain. The rain paused then the rumble returned – closer. I picked up the tools.
Then the rain fell in thick drops. This was a serious rain but something in its air seemed insincere. It would not last long. I would not be driven inside. I walked through the garage and reached for the beach umbrella. I would keep working. There was something motivating in calmly facing the rain. This rain that had brought the weather that had made it so favorable for blight. The same rain that would wash the tomatoes and water the garden. The rain that I could not stop.
Almost done. Only my hands were wet. I must have looked silly sitting low picking tomatoes with an oversized umbrella resting on my shoulder. It didn’t matter – I was finished. In the end, I left some of the stalks to finish off their course as they would. Removed of their heavy fruit, perhaps, just perhaps they would rally and grow. Or they would die and take the small fruit left behind with them. I would soon find out. Sigh. August.