As the days grow shorter, colder and the winter solstice looms, I look out at the frozen landscape that is our backyard and begin to dream, of tomatoes.
Boy, could I go for a juicy, vine ripened Big Boy right about now. Just sliced with a little salt and pepper and I’m good to go.
This past summer we had both new varieties and a heritage brand which could not be beat for texture and flavor. We also tried a “Sun Gold” variety of cherry tomato that was to die for.
The combination of sweet and tangy flavors was almost better than….chocolate.
Those I would pick and eat right from the vine while on a detour to the mailbox.
With respect to full disclosure, it’s my wife’s garden. She is the one who does the tilling, planting and hoeing much like the little red hen in the children’s bedtime story.
Unlike the lazy dog however, I show up just in time to feign helping with the harvest. That way I can justify “pigging” out on the fruits and vegetables of her labor.
A killing frost occurred almost two months ago now and the taste of those tangy red globes and other vegetables we couldn’t give away in September, is now a distant memory.
The ever bearing raspberries hung on a little while longer but those too have passed into winter slumber.
The last cucumbers were brought in from the worn out vines and tasted just as good as the first. Peeled and sliced with salt and pepper or made into a salad with brine and onions, they now follow that annual exodus of seasons.
It’s a long time between raking leaves and a really good radish sandwich.
I’m sorry but there is just no comparison between vegetables grown in the back yard and those imitations propagated in a greenhouse or ripened in a truck rolling up from somewhere in the south.
Those folks try hard but the effort comes up a little short and a lot expensive. Paying a dollar for a waxed, watery tasting cucumber just doesn’t cut the mustard.
A simple seed grown with care for 70 days or so in Wisconsin sun and soil, with a little cow manure thrown in for good measure, becomes a collage of produce that would make an artist proud.
An old farmer that I worked for many years ago, while slicing into a vine ripened melon stated with satisfaction, “Eat up boys you can’t get these in January.”
At the time he was right of course but with modern genetics and better shipping techniques you now can get them in January but the problem is- they still taste like January.
After the Christmas Holidays it’s only a few short weeks until the seed catalogs start to arrive, complete with glossy colored photos of perfect fruit and vegetables.
Then, just a couple of months later it’s planting time once again and I can’t wait.
I just hope her new knee is up to the task.
‘Today’s Take’ Green Bay Press Gazette, December 2009