we have been witnesses to a transformation worthy of notice. in an uncovered ziplock plastic container on our kitchen counter, no less.
we placed the cherry tomatoes in the container on october 30. just the tomatoes. not knowing what to expect, wondering if we needed to aid them along at all. we had read about ethylene and apples and bananas and paper bags. but, we thought, for a few days we would leave them alone and see what happened.
on november 6, only a week later, a few tiny orbs had turned orange and were suddenly red. “we have tomatoes!” i wanted to gloat…the second time in this season of boomer-container-farmer living. it was astounding. we had read that they should not touch each other and yet, these tomatoes were thriving in community with each other.
we watched the progress and photographed every few days.
on december 6, these deliciously sweet red cherry tomatoes, along with zucchini and baby bella mushrooms and onion and garlic and red peppers, were tossed with olive oil over penne and became dinner. and to think what we might have missed had we just left them on the vine when we put the plants in the informal compost pile behind the garage.
at a time when ministers of music all over are stressing about advent, i am reminded of building cantatas…much like van gogh’s words, “great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” to try and rehearse an entire cantata start-to-finish with a choir is to overwhelm them. to introduce songs, one by one, allowing singers to bond with the music, to sink into it, to want to really sing it, invest in it, is to give music the space it needs to grow. integrating all the pieces together works when each individual piece is honored within the context of the whole. a common goal. the green turns to red. the ethylene of each choir member – so to speak – transforms each other. it’s all about the spirit brought together.
the quiet of the season this year – the second year sans adventpush – is punctuated by small measures of rest, time pondering unanswered questions, moments of noticing tiny miracles. i walked to the piano the other day and played the opening strains of “what child is this” and listened as the sound faded.
i’ve gone from cantatas to cherry tomatoes, it seems. it is not without learning.
at the end of growing season, just before advent, the lessons: one tomato gone bad in the container will have a drastic effect on the others. the farmers’ almanac offers guidance: tomatoes that have spoiled or molded should be removed. the offending tomato will cast a toxic shadow over the rest and one must be cautious to discern where the toxic is actually coming from. keeping ripe tomatoes in a plastic bag will make them go bad quickly, so one must be cautious not to suffocate one’s tomatoes. not all green tomatoes off the plant will ripen well; the tomatoes at a mature green stage will. some tomatoes are just not ready to be red. and…it is much easier to ripen tomatoes together.
as the season passes and we move into the new year, i think about this transformation we have watched. we were perhaps overly giddy, a tad bit too enthusiastic, slightly too fostering of potential, a little too encouraging of our little tomato-team. but – red! we have red!
and no bananas or paper bags were harmed in this transformation.