Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Year of the Tomato

This year was The Year of the Tomato. Before you start racking your brain and doubting your knowledge of world and cultural affairs, please note that this title was solely attributed to my home. See, I had tried growing tomatoes for the first time last year. I feel compelled to add a bit of background here. Last year summer, I stopped in at Walmart to purchase a packet or two of seeds - in late July! The Walmart Associate seemed just a tad annoyed that I would ask for seed packets in late July. He let me know that they were no longer available or some such thing. 

But, I was intent on planting. So, Plan B. I got home and made a visit to my fridge. I retrieved two of the store-bought tomatoes and sliced and diced them. I then prepped the soil in my planter box and got to planting. The long and the short? The frost came just as the first blossom did. With a heavy sigh, I uprooted the foot-long plants. They were lush and green but getting by solely on looks was not cutting it. I promised myself to "try again next year."

Last spring, in haste, I made my way back to Walmart - in MARCH! I got all the accouterments for soil preparation and seeds/seedling planting. At the end of April, wanting to follow the instructions to a T, we finally got to planting. (I invited my 4yo niece to participate, thinking that she would enjoy making this journey; seeing her handiwork come to fruition and so on and so forth.) My sis took some pics of the "then," as I had a really good feeling we would have something luscious to capture in the "now." We used the bio-degradable seedling boxes - the ones that you simply stick into the soil outside/in planter box, when the seedlings are a bit grown. I gave my niece her tray of boxes and I kept a few for myself. 

Imagine my horror when, one evening, about three weeks later, (my seedlings having not yet burst forth, but, in an act of clumsiness), I knocked my trays off the work table. This, coupled with the fact that my niece's seedlings had started shooting up, was too much for me to bear. Tears came to my eyes. Why? Why my seedlings? Not to say I was wishing such ill-fortune for my niece's lot, but, after all that effort, I felt the little tomatoes had me beat. I pouted, stooped and scooped up the dirt and poured it back across the trays, refilling each. In the beginning, they had been carefully planted - two seeds in each. Now, I just didn't care!

About a week later, finally! A burst of white and green. I transferred them about two weeks after that, into the planter box. Little did I know the journey was just about to begin. For the next two and a half months, I watered those plants - and waited; talked to them - and waited; nurtured their soil - and waited; infused their water with Miracle-Gro now and then - and waited; tied them to sticks - and waited; changed to longer sticks - and waited. The plants were healthy and big and a few of them were getting all sort of entangled with their neighbours. Friends and family would come by and remark on how lovely they looked. And I agreed. I just wanted to add, "But, I'm not growing tomato plants! I'm growing tomatoes!" Where were the tomatoes? Why were they taking so long my goodness gracious meeee!  It got to where I just told myself that I was just interested in seeing where all this would lead. Even though I could not remember how long the back of the packet had said it would take for them to bear, there was no way on earth - except in the planter box at my home, apparently - should it take this long! But, I kept at it.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I got home with the intention of transplanting some of them. Maybe they needed even more sunlight? I decided to dig up the ones not-so-entangled and move them to a garden area downstairs. Lo and behold! What did I see? The first blossom! I did my happy dance right there! Then, like any normal Twitter user (a probable oxymoron for another time), I tweeted a picture! You would not believe the joy that welled up in my bosom. Sheer joy. That was about July 10 (as if!) It was July 10. Then came another period of more talking to them - and waiting; watering them - and waiting, etc. On July 30, I spotted the first fruit - or three. Tweeted. I kept nurturing; they enjoyed an occasional shower blessing and more fruits kept coming. When they grew to, what I thought was, an appropriate size, I grew impatient. Again. On August 31, another pic. Another tweet. Another question: "Any day now, ripe?" 

By this time, this felt like a roller-coaster journey. But, I knew I could not hurry the process. I simply had to do my part and Mother Nature would do hers. Come a mere four days later, I spotted the first ripe tomato! The usual: happy dance and tweet. And, "Thank You, God!" I also sent pics to family members and friends. Sheer joy. Not to brag, or anything, but these were some sweet tomatoes! I gave away a few dozens to family and friends and had the pleasure of gracing my meals with my home-grown tomatoes.

Fall came. Many of the plants dried up - the circle of life - but, even then, a few fruits were still coming. I just kept reaping until the frost came.

In this The Year of the Tomato, I learned quite a bit about myself - and my writing journey.

The Voice
Speaking of journeys, this is the morning after the night before Tessanne Chin was announced the winner of NBC's The Voice. I recall reading something she'd said about this being a dream come true; a remarkable place to be on her journey; giving thanks to God for "exceeding abundantly above..." Loved that! Indeed, most dreams do not come true overnight. They take work and commitment - and it doesn't hurt to have strong family support. Congrats again, Tessanne! You are an inspiration to fellow Jamaicans, and people all over the world. I/we wish you all the very best on your new adventure. #WhatARide!


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