Tomato Meditations

Yesterday my friend told me the tomatoes I gave her were the best tomatoes she had in a very long time. "I did not cut them up and put them in the salad, I just ate them like an apple". My heart! No salt, no vinegar, nothing to change or add or mask; she ate them just the way they were, she ate them whole. That's why I love her.

When I look at my harvest of tomatoes now I see the sun, the rain, the soil. I remember the plants when they were but seedlings. I remember staking and pruning, chasing away the stinkbugs. I see all the tomatoes that didn't make it to my lap, the ones that were eaten by slugs so that the others would survive. I see the spider that spun a web among their flowers to catch the little flies. I see myself, singing and walking around the garden, barefoot. I see the mourning doves and the cardinals, feeding under the plants' shade. I see Mark turning the faucet on from the other side of the garden while I shout "Thank you!". I see the dog chasing bees in the soft grass with her tail pointing straight to the sky like an arrow. 

When I look at our tomatoes, I see them glistening in the morning light from afar when I peer through the foggy kitchen window. In the midday heat and humidity they look sweaty and bright red.  Then at dusk they seem lovingly wrapped up in the last golden rays, serene and swollen with the day's growth. 

I see people's eyes widen when I say after the last bite "They're homegrown!".

I see Mark engrossed in his book while swirling the last forkful of pasta in the homemade sauce.

I see myself placing them carefully like babies in the bottom drawer of the fridge after washing and drying them off. 

By growing tomatoes, I have come to better understand Thich Nhat Han's teaching of looking deeply, and of inter-being. "Nothing can exist by itself alone". It is a good practice that I am trying to extrapolate to the rest of life; inanimate objects, plants, animals, and harder still, people. My God, people are so complex and shrouded.  People are their parents, their siblings, their children, their traumas, experiences, dreams, homes... Yet if I put in the effort, I have no excuse for no compassion, I have no excuse for judgement. This is very hard to accept, because being stuck in anger, jealousy and judgement seems now to be my choice.

Every time I catch myself forming a judgement or losing my temper I know I have to "look deeply". I barely do it. I'm not there yet. I come home to my tomatoes and I sit with them, I ask them to teach me. Tomorrow I will practice biting one whole, like an apple, and see what its smiling seeds have to say.


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