12 July 2007

A Harvest of Love

There is very little else that can give me as much satisfaction as picking a basket of tomatoes straight out of the garden and bringing it inside to surprise my husband like I did today.

He's the tomato lover in the family and can eat them and eat them and eat them. He's the chef in the family so he makes wonderful culinary creations with them. He's also the allergy-sufferer in the family so he isn't able to be outside in our garden nearly as much as he'd like. It also means that he isn't aware of how many tomatoes are actually growing out there--hence the ability for me to surprise him with a brimming basket left on the kitchen counter in his prep area. It's always fun to hear him from the other room, "Oh Honey! Look at these tomatoes!" I know that he'll usually be making up one of his tomato salads with homemade vinaigrette later that evening

This whole ritual of growing tomatoes for my husband started the first spring we lived at Rosehaven Cottage.

We were immersed in remodeling and restoration--drowning in it actually. Our goal was to simply have access to all the square footage in our home, have a decent bathroom and kitchen, and not freeze from the drafts coming in from the spaces in the subfloor.

Early spring rolled around, and I had this overwhelming need to put in a vegetable garden. I was told by many that I was nuts and should just focus on the interior of the house. "Let the garden go this spring," they'd say helpfully, "Don't try to do everything at once."

But the persistent nagging to put in a garden kept coming into my psyche. I know not to ignor these persistent nagging thoughts. So I moved the installation of a vegetable garden up on the priority list (much to the disbelief of family and friends) and put in the first vegetable plants (including tomatoes) as soon as it was safe.

Summer came quickly and the tomatoes were thriving. I had put in Sweet 100's and the vines were burgeoning with the little round red gems of tomato sweetness.
At the same time that the tomatoes were ripening, my husband was struggling with health issues that led him to the doctor's office. On a hunch, the intuitive physician tested my husband's blood sugar right there in the office. It was through the roof. My husband walked out of the doctor's office that day with the diagnosis of being a Type 2 diabetic weighing on him. It would change his life. It explained a great deal of the health struggles he had experienced over the previous 2 years but wasn't any easier to take.

His mother is also a Type 2 diabetic and, fortunately, he had educated himself when she was diagnosed. He knew his diet would have to change drastically. His sweet tooth would have to be satisfied in some other way than the chocolate he was so fond of. But there is one thing that my husband loves more than chocolate--tomatoes!

It was now so clear why I had felt so driven to plant the vegetable garden. That first crop of Sweet 100's was a ray of hope during a very difficult life transition for him. The sweet little "candies" that he could pop in his mouth without guilt or hesitation made the depressing prospect of having diabetes so much easier to cope with. I knew that I had grown them for a very special reason, and it was no fluke that I had known to plant them.

So every year since that first year at Rosehaven Cottage, the tomatoe plants always go in the garden as soon as it's safe. My husband anxiously awaits the first tomato that is ripe enough to harvest. He's very much like a child waiting for Christmas morning. It's wonderful to watch. And every time I harvest another basketful and leave them on the kitchen counter for him, I feel a deep sense of love for him, for the garden, and for the blessing that tomatoes represent to us.

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