Monday, February 18, 2019

Heirloom Tomato

Back in September of 2015, in anticipation of my parents arrival to Florida to spend winter with us, I planted some tomato seeds. It was in hope against hope, given my steady track record of failure. A preemptive strike against boredom they threatened would most certainly kill them inside our home in American suburbia.

The seeds sprouted – I’ve seen that before, and by the time Mom and Dad arrived they were the size of respectable seedlings.  That’s as far as my success ever reached. Respectable seedlings.  Only a whiff of a promise of home-grown tomato, nothing more.  

With little else to do, my parents threw themselves into caring for the garden.  Raking, watering, pruning, and tending to the seedlings.  Under their supervision they grew and grew, their limbs stretching tall until they had to be staked, and eventually the first blooms appeared followed by the tiny round balls.  

With my own eyes, I got to see the tomato in the making, and it was … marvelously addictive.

We ate the tomatoes off those vines all through June the following year. Before they left, my Mom made sure to set aside some seeds for the next year’s planting.

Those children were eaten in 2017, and their children in 2018.

I admit at times I was tempted to abandon the whole idea, but it must be in my blood now because sooner or later, despite all objections I can’t help but…It's my version of The Call of the Wild. 

Usually, we would have a few plants, a dozen at the most, which is plenty to ‘service’ our tomato-devouring family.

Last year, the day after Christmas, against all rational reason, I opened the bag of what I guess we can  now 'officially' call 'heirloom' tomato seeds and did it again. As I said, normally we only had few tomato plants which was just about all I could handle. This weekend I counted fifty-six tomato seedlings that have sprouted from a single tomato! Fifty-six!!!  I wonder if we should be a Guinness Book of World records?

We went to the landfill to get compost and I scrounged for pots in the garden corners and the back of the garage.  I washed all that I found and filled them with warm, wet dirt, poking a hole for each seedling, then gently slipping it in.  

Now there is an army of pots on my back patio! 

I can’t help but feel a bit possessive, like a mother with a brood of babies she doesn’t want to entrust to some neglectful stranger. I don’t want them to go to someone who will take them only because they were free (or cheap) and then throw them into a corner of the yard and forget about them until they are all dead.

I want my babies to go to someone who will nurture them, give them what they need and protect them from adversaries of all kinds. Someone who would tend to them until they are filled with blooms and produce a bumper-crop of tomatoes for all to enjoy. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Creative Valentine

Yesterday while I was making chocolate truffles as Valentine’s gifts for our kids’ teachers, our 15 year old daughter mentioned somewhat casually: 

I know the names of all the bones in our body.

You do?!!! What are they?  I ask, rolling the dough into a cylinder before I cut it into equal size wheels, to be turned into balls.

Starting from the top she points at her head and begins reciting, 

Cranium, mandible, maxilla, parietal bone, temporal bone…  She keeps going, moving down her body, pointing and naming, naming and pointing.

I am genuinely impressed.  I certainly can’t name all the bones in my body, and if asked, I might miss even some major ones.

When she finally gets to her toes, I tell her that.  She smiles and adds,

I know the muscles too.

No way!!! My eyeballs just about pop out of their sockets. With renewed vigor I roll the truffles - teachers deserve every ounce of love and encouragement no matter shape or form.

Oh yes!, she beams and proceeds to name the muscles. When I blurt out, Gluteus maximus, she corrects me,  

You are going out of order, mom – you have Gluteus medius first.

I laugh and let her finish, now almost worried-impressed.

While I roll the balls – uneven and a bit lumpy – I marvel at God’s outrageous creativity that started with a pinch of dust between his fingers and was fashioned into bones and muscles, organs and their varied functions, vascular and nervous systems, all masterfully connected and put together into a being that can see and hear, eat and taste, breathe and smell, think and understand. 

Feel. Hot, cold, scared, excited, in love, sad, satisfied. 

Able to speak, translate, write poetry, create songs, dance, build buildings, bridges and underwater tunnels.

Able to laugh. Cry.

Transform food into an art form, binary code into Internet, wind, water and electrons into electricity. 

We are made in God's image and our creativity is an expression of his own creative nature. 

Limited and imperfect,

uneven and lumpy,

just a tiny fraction

 broken, mangled and sometimes misguided

but still

rather amazing

reflection of his character and being.

Using our creativity - in its many, varied, uniquely personal forms is one of the best gifts we can give back to him.

In what way can you express your creativity today?