Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We dream of July and summer tomatoes!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" to the Tuesday Slice of Life 
sponsored by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

Yesterday I spent a few moments with my one tomato plant of the summer.  A few summers ago I planted my first container plant tomatoes along the edge of our driveway.  Last year, a son's wedding (a few days after school was out) prevented me from procurring any tomato plants.  I was convinced that there were no tomato plants left anywhere, but a dear friend called around town and lovingly gifted me with two tomato plants, probably the last two left in Seattle and yes, I planted them in July, thinking all the while, I'll never have tomatoes this year.  Although my harvest came late, I enjoyed tomatoes in September!

In a session at the All Write conference in June, Penny Kittle shared Sarah Kay's spoken word poem "Montauk" with us.  The technology failed (just like real life in my classroom), so she read us the poem.  She encouraged us to find a line, a phrase, a place that triggers something inside of you that wants expression.  "... her eyes as big as summer tomatoes..." was the trigger phrase for me.

Here's my quick write from my writer's notebook at All Write:
I am ten years old.  We drive for miles in the white '59 Chevy so that Daddy can buy tomato plants from his favorite organic gardener.  We return home with crates of tiny plants.  He plows the rows of already prepared soil with the hand tiller.  I stand beside him as he digs each hole, we add fertilizer, and then tenderly empty each plant from its green plastic holder, drop it into the hole, and pat the soil back around each plant.  When we finish the first row, we drag the green water hose over to splash water on each newly planted tomato plant.  We dream of July and summer tomatoes.

This next quick write was composed today for this Slice of Life:
I am fifty-plus years old.  I finished my grades the day before leaving for the All Write conference in Indiana.  I returned home to two days of CCSS work with my grade level colleagues.  I sprint through one and one half days of chores and piles, swatting at whatever task screams the loudest.  We're headed to Portland for a much desired weekend with my daughter and a longed for leisurely trip to Powell's Bookstore.  My son-in-law arrives at the designated time, ready to leave.  I'm embarrassed that I'm not ready.  My own children are quite familiar with my before-trip frenzied state, but my son-in-law isn't.   I quickly finish packing, throw my things in the car, and then drag out the plastic bag of Miracle Grow, the empty container, and my tomato plant.  We quickly empty the bag, dig a deep hole for the plant, shake it out of its green plastic holder, drop it into the hole, and then pat the soil around the plant.  I retrieve the wire cage from the garage and we place it over the plant.  I fill the blue plastic bucket with water several times and splash water on my one tomato plant of the summer.  As we pull out of the driveway, I dream of August and summer tomatoes.

I check on my tomato plant daily.  I talk to my tomato plant.  I love watching the yellow blooms turn into tiny orbs of green.  I walk away from this morning time with my tomato plant, rub my hands together, breathe in the smell, and I'm ten years old again!
And this week, the first blush of summer arrived. 

11 comments:

  1. I walk away from this morning time with my tomato plant, rub my hands together, breathe in the smell, and I'm ten years old again!

    I loved this line- I can smell that earthy, tomatoey smell!

    And here's the other line that spoke to me-
    a longed for leisurely trip to Powell's Bookstore. It made me nostalgic for afternoons long, long ago, spent wandering there, then settling in with a stack of books to browse through a little more deeply and pick the one I could afford to buy.

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    1. Oh, I do love Powell's and with my daughter's graduation next month, there will be far fewer trips to Portland. I always gather up more than I can buy, and then play the Which do I want most? game.

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  2. I love this image-yellow bloom to orbs of green. Tomato plants quietly urge us to talk to them. Talk on!

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    1. These tomatoes are the orange cherry ones, so they go from yellow bloom to green orb to orange sphere. I will definitely keep talking!

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  3. I talk to my houseplants, and I think they like it! Hope the conversations with your tomato plant help it thrive, Ramona. I like that you made the connections. We can't let go of those early memories-so important to keep them going, right? (Your son-in-law will need to be patient and go with the flow-easier on the body!)

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    1. Linda, my son-in-law is extremely patient. He willingly helped me with the planting (even though he doesn't like tomatoes). It's fun to realize how something like the smell of tomatoes can be our very own time machine.

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  4. Got a chuckle from your description of getting ready - I can sympathize! Those tomatoes will taste wonderful!

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    1. My daughter is the organized one in our family. She used to say that she didn't know how I would get ready for a trip without her help, and I must admit that it's a challenge!
      Can't wait for my first ripe tomato, the cherry sun golds are like eating candy. One reason to be excited for August!

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  5. I love how you shared the development of this piece and the side stories that make it so easy to connect to. I felt the stress of your son-in-law arriving early -- your short, to the point sentences conveyed how you accomplished your veritable punch list as quickly as possible before jumping into the car as 'normal,' calm even ;). I'm so sorry I didn't get to meet you at All-Write this year -- maybe next?

    It's awesome how experiences, smells, visions can take us back to a special time. I'm glad you were able to revisit 10 :).

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    1. I do love that certain experiences and smells transport us back. I love envisioning our backyard garden (it was huge), and remembering special times there with my dad.

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  6. Great slice! There is such promise and nostalgia in gardening! Can't wait to see pictures of those tomatoes when they're ready!!

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