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Good neighbors and friends with tomatoes

Good neighbors and friends with tomatoes

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One of my favorite seasons of the year has arrived.

When I was a student, I loved summer because it meant a break from school. I had summer jobs, plus I had to help with Mama’s 100-acre garden, but I always managed to squeeze in some time for fishing and swimming. The older I get, the less I enjoy summer, but I do love another season that summer brings.

With summer comes tomato season; there are few things I find more delightful, or that tickle my taste buds more, more than a big, ripe, red, homegrown tomato. We can go to a grocery store and buy tomatoes most any time of the year, even in the dead of winter, but even those that claim to have been “vine ripened” are obviously missing something…flavor. When those are the only ones we can find, then we have to make do, but when we have the real thing, forget the trips to the store. 

A few years ago, I told you about our raised tomato bed in the back yard. Between the backyard squirrels and the cutworms, that didn’t turn out so well. We’ve also raised a few vines in planters on the deck. This year we didn’t raise anything…except grass. This has been about the wettest summer I remember. I put my Weed-N-Feed down at the right time, and my grass has looked great and kept me busy mowing every week, but I have felt like I was living in Florida with all these daily rain showers.

This would have been the summer to have a big garden. While I missed out on my own garden, I have had the next best thing. One of my next-door neighbors, as well as one of my racquetball/pickleball buddies, have had bumper crops this year. They have been so generous with the fruit of their labors, or should that be vegetables of their labor? Actually, botanists consider tomatoes to be a fruit, because they flower and have seeds. I still think of them as a vegetable, because they taste so scrumptious and most flowers do not. 

Whatever we call them, I call them delicious. My neighbors and friend have kept me supplied with homegrown tomatoes. They have even gone the extra mile most of the time—they make deliveries! What we do with them depends on how many they bring; if they bring me only one or two, it’s sandwich time. Of course, you can always put them on a juicy hamburger, but I love a plain-ole-simple tomato sandwich. That’s two slices of squishy white bread, a generous lathering of mayonnaise (preferably Dukes), salt and pepper. The only thing better than one of those bad boys is two of them! When I’m in the mood for something a little fancier, I may add a thick slice of extra-sharp cheddar. Sometimes I go all out and make a T-B-L-T, which is my twist on the old classic BLT. Mine has the bacon and lettuce between two slices of tomato, enveloped by two slices of bread. When they deliver sacks full of tomatoes, then its homemade salsa time. Jean has making salsa down to a fine art, and I have become pretty skilled at emptying those mason jars! 

The Apostle Paul, in Galatians, wrote about the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit is not tomatoes, but love, joy, peace, etc. They don’t grow in our backyards, but in our lives. Even more so than homegrown tomatoes, when we grow the fruit of the Spirit, and share it with others, it brings a smile to everyone. 


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