Bobbie Wayne's Blog

Short writings by Bobbie Wayne, writer, musician and visual artist. Her stories have appeared in The Ravens Perch, Intrinsick, SLAB, Blueline Magazine, and Colere literary journal.

Tomatoes in my pocket

I woke, (partially) recalling there were tomatoes in my jacket pockets. The jacket was in the closet; hoped I'd remember tomorrow. It's been a bad year for gardening in Marblehead, MA. A cold drizzly spring made for late planting. Determined this year not to plant too many seedlings, I only started twenty seeds. Most years, I give away 20-30 tomato plants because I can't bear to cull, and all the seeds I plant seem to germinate. But not this year.

June arrived. The surviving seedlings were going into the tomato bed, cold or not. Precisely on June twelfth, the weather became hazy, hot and humid. The summer became the hottest on record here, and throughout the planet. Those plants which had survived the frigid spring now struggled with excessive heat, developing interesting fungal diseases. Long periods of rainless humidity interspersed with day-long deluges killed off all but seven hardy grape and cherry tomato plants.

By August, I was picking the few tomatoes which had ripened. Most ofthe plants were grudgingly producing fruit, which was still green. "Volunteer" plants from last year had sprung up once the sun appeared, crowding this year's plants. My gardening area is small, as our Border Collie, Liberty,has the lion's share of the yard for practicing agility. Like Manhattan real estate,my garden space is cramped and valuable. The tomatoes, like green skyscrapers, compete, growing tall and reedy.

It is late September and, while the kitchen island holds a small flock of red and green orbs, most of the fruit remains on the vines, or is picked once it shows the faintest blush of red. I pick how ever many I can when I'm exercising Liberty, usually stuffing them in my jacket pocket and forgetting about them until the wee hours of the night. I have learned to forgive myself for these slips of memory. I'm lucky; I can go to the farmer's market and buy healthy tomatoes for canning and pickling. There are many less-privileged people across the globe whose crops have failed as well due to climate disruption. Those with jackets may dream of having fruit in their pockets too, but for a different reason. I count my blessings and also am looking for my green tomato-pickle recipe. 

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Comments 1

Guest - Grace LaFox on Wednesday, 27 September 2023 11:11

Looking forward to more… it felt a little meditation on being here in the world.. i think your story came full circle and compact as a cherry tomato 🍅

Looking forward to more… it felt a little meditation on being here in the world.. i think your story came full circle and compact as a cherry tomato 🍅
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Monday, 26 February 2024