Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tomato Plants All Over the Place

For the past couple of years as spring has come, I have purchased a couple of tomato plants. Where I live, the growing season is short and there are many perils to plants, such as deer, elk, squirrels, and other critters. Because of these adverse conditions, I don’t try anything ambitious – the odds of success are just too poor. Someday I would love to have a greenhouse and really go to town with veggies and flowers, but that will have to be down the road. For the moment, a couple of tomato plants are about right. Although I am pretty new at trying to grow vegetables and I make plenty of mistakes, I always begin the year with great hope. I enjoy that presence of possibility.

Last fall, I visited some friends who had some tomato plants on their balcony. They were covered with tomatoes! Some of them were beautifully ripe and looked like they would fall off the vine into your hand. Others were green. They seemed crowded on their stems, as if they were competing for the best place to hang. I was envious. Compared to my pathetic tomato plants, these were spectacular. I had one little tomato on my plants. It was about the size of a golf ball. I didn’t really expect to get any tomatoes for all my effort and optimism.  I had to admit that I had been more optimistic than my minimal effort deserved.

But now I had seen what success looked like. So this year, I begin again with even greater hopes. Armed with a little more knowledge, the determination to pay attention, a goal in mind, and the time to devote to my tomatoes, I have purchased a grape tomato plant and a regular tomato plant. I got them at a reputable greenhouse and bought ones that were slightly bigger than I had bought before. The grape tomato plant even had one tiny tomato already growing on it. I bought them earlier this year and put them in a sunny window so I could have a longer growing season. I even put them out on warm days and brought them back in at night to help them toughen up. Now they sit on my deck. They get plenty of sun but not too much. They get watered and fertilized regularly. I already have a golf ball sized tomato on my regular plant! No telling what could happen!

So many things in life are like tomato plants. Possibilities are abundant. With a bit of care and attention, needs are met, conditions are optimal, and growth comes. When critters attack, the caretaker becomes the protector. Eventually, fruit happens. It is a basic life experience. We have all participated in it in some way or another. We have all been nurtured or nurtured another or both.

Sometimes, though, we neglect the need for nurture. We are like beginners trying to grow tomatoes. We may neglect nurturing because we lack knowledge or hope or tools or vision. We may see no need for fruit. We may be forgetful or lazy. We not have been enlightened to possibility. Even so, we often expect fruit in the absence of nurture. It seems silly, now, that I expected to grow tomatoes when I knew nothing about it and didn’t pay much attention.

Without nurture, there is no fruit. With self, soul, and relationships a little nurture goes far toward bearing fruit. I don’t think it’s difficult, it just takes some attention and desire. When I look at my life, I look at the fruit that comes and then I can see what I am nurturing and what I am neglecting. Sometimes I am surprised, sometimes delighted, and sometimes disappointed. There are truly many different varieties of tomato plants in my life. Some do better than others. It’s up to me.

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