On the changing of seasons

Given the option, I generally don’t do change.  My tendency, at least historically, has been to try to get something, anything, figured out in a way that works and then LEAVE THAT PUPPY ALONE!  I have learned, however, that change is unavoidable and (I do choke to type these words) can actually be good, and although I still fight against it and struggle to work through it, I do at least intellectually realize that life goes better when I face and deal appropriately with change.

As you may well know, I grow tomatoes in containers, and I tend those babies more or less daily from about Valentine’s Day till sometime in November.  I really shouldn’t complain about that, because tomato-growing is my choice.  No one makes me do it, but by about Labor Day, it does start to get old.

Tonight’s low is expected to be 22 degrees.  Every other year, when the first frost is expected, I recruit Andrew to go out and help me move move the tomatoes and cover them with sheets and clip the sheets in place with clothespins.  Then the next morning, we uncover them and hang the sheets out to dry, and the next night we re-cover them, and we repeat this process for one or two or three or more days until the nighttime temps climb back up above 35.  Which they usually do, and then they tend to stay up for a week or ten days before dipping back down, which requires another round of covering and uncovering.

I do this because I have chosen to grow indeterminate tomatoes, meaning that the vines keep growing and the plants keep producing fruit until they die.  Kind of like people. . .  Hmm. . .  Anyway, it’s Halloween, and not only did I have loads of green tomatoes on the vines, I actually still had BLOSSOMS on those plants!  And something in me just can’t stand to let all those green tomatoes die!  It seems like such a waste.  So I complain as I cover and uncover, and then eventually, when I can’t stand doing that any more and it looks like we’re going to have a hard freeze that will do the plants in once and for all, I pick all the green tomatoes and store them in boxes in the unheated playroom, where a number of them will gradually ripen.  Last year, we ate our last homegrown tomato in the second week of January.  = )

But this year I decided that I wasn’t going to do the cover-uncover two-step because – are you ready? – I don’t have to.  My tomatoes are a hobby; we surely won’t starve without them, we can afford to lose some of them, and my time and mental energy are more valuable than a windowsill full of Big Beefs, Early Girls, and First Prizes.

Tonight will be well below freezing, and although the seven-day forecast says we’ll be back up in the 40s all the subsequent nights, I picked all the green tomatoes (two full buckets’ worth; maybe 25 pounds?) today, pulled the poles and cages, and chucked the vines into the ditch.

Yes, I will check the playroom boxes twice a week and move to the windowsill those that have potential, but other than that, I am done.

This is actually an important emotional process for me.  I am learning – and training myself to – let go of things when their seasons are done.  Like pain that has been faced and processed.  Like day-to-day parenting of adult kids who now live on their own.  Like friendships that were close but now aren’t.  Like expectations that are no longer (and maybe never were) realistic.

So, while I know that I am potentially losing the opportunity to enjoy some subset of our homegrown tomato crop, I am choosing to be thankful for the ones we we’ve already eaten and glad that I will have more time for other things in the coming months.

And next year, I’ll grow more tomatoes.  = )

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