When I am walking the rows of tomato plants in late August, so much sun on my back and sweat on my brow, and the sticky smell of tomatoes mixed with fermenting blackberries surrounds me, both intoxicating and suffocating, I remind myself to soak it all in. In field work, and hard work of any kind, mantras help. Remember this in your heart, in your mind, in your body. Remember.
The smells, the heat. The feeling of my body moving. There is something so settling about the grey that will cover the skies here in the Pacific Northwest come late fall, and then stay all through the winter and spring. Those skies create a sameness that spreads out covering everything, and although I love it like a favorite blanket, I know that it is all the better for this time of year right now. For hot sun and dry ground and ripe tomatoes.
The tomato harvest in our wild, sprawling tomato patch is like a treasure hunt. An eye spy game of finding the red hidden within all of the greens and browns and goldens of the tomato plants and the weeds. I watch the tomatoes pile up in the path as I make my way through the rows, my loot. The feeling of so much. I am filled. While I bake in the sun to gather these stars of the summer, I think about how later that night I will take all of the not-pretty-enough-for-market fruits inside and commence the never-ending pot of tomato sauce cooking on the stove-top season. I imagine the wonderful aroma that will fill our home, and the wonderful flavor that will fill our bellies, later, when this sun is long gone.
I fight off the longing for fall. All of the ways that I can. I know well enough by now that love for any one thing is brightened in its contrast. To cool off, after all that work, we will pull some popsicles out of the freezer. We sit on our porch facing west and linger. My children, too, grow like the tomatoes and I can’t slow it down nor speed it up so I try to take it all in. The hot sun and dry ground and ripe tomatoes. The sunshine and lollipops and lots of tomato sauce.