Photo by Mike Aiello
Tomatoes are beautiful, delicious and a reminder every year of the bounty of nature.

Jerry's View: Tomatoes are a red reminder of the bounty and beauty of nature

 When I think about the bounty on our table each fall, I am reminded of the beauty of nature. From seeds or starts we harvest from our own gardens a wonderful array of fresh vegetables and fruits.

 Each year I would begin the growing season in late April, toiling in the soil with my tomato starts and pepper plant seeds. As in my youth, to give the plants a boost, we often used chicken manure in small doses, mostly because it was cheap and available. We always wanted the biggest and reddest tomatoes on our block.

As an adult I continued the tradition. It was game on by mid-May between my brother-in-law in Portland and me here, in Seattle. In this game there are no rules. Biggest wins.  I grew up in Portland so I know about the hot summers. Perfect for ripening tomatoes quickly. But April is my birthday month. The brother-in-law was always kind enough to drive my little sis Norma, up for the event.  Norma's hubby was clearly not thinking about our contest so early. Often he would revel with joy when he was able to produce a bulbous beefy boy tomato in our annual contest. Of course that would not happen until late August.

Therefore it was a great panic for him when he showed up in my driveway in April to see a shiny, red tomato bulging at its seams, hanging from my lone tomato plant. He staggered over to the plant while I watched, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. He simply could not believe I already had a winner, albeit one tomato on a plant.

On closer inspection it became obvious. He could see the 5-lb fishing leader I had tied to the stem of that red beauty and circled it around the stalk of the plant. I  had him for a moment and the joy I got from my deceit was immeasurable. He always knew I could not be trusted in contests of this nature, like the previous visit when he was a few strokes ahead of me in our annual golf outing. He had to slip off his shoe for a moment to correct a sock problem. I took the opportunity to drop a thorny acorn into his shoe. I might have won it right there as he could barely walk down the fairway. I didn't always play fair with him but I didn't always lose either.

I no longer plant tomatoes. I leave that to the kids. They seem to derive the same pleasure as I did, growing, cultivating and showing off their prize veggies. They keep them near their fishing gear. I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree.

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