09-02-00... 8:47pm EDT....
I have just spent the day harvesting 135 cherry tomatoes. That's 27 groups of 5, taken from 6 plants on this, the 246th day of the year.
A one-day record for this millennium.
Now washed and spread out on a kitchen towel, they look so vulnerable individually, yet collectively they threaten to overwhelm my consciousness (especially when I get down on my knees and look at them from their level).
They range in size from 11/16 to 1 and 1/16 inches in diameter - a difference of a mere 5/16" between largest and smallest according to the circles template I often used once upon a time as a cartoonist, yet that numerical difference hardly begins to tell the tale. To eyeball these tomatoes is to see the difference between a small marble and a ping pong ball, or nearly so.
Sudden shudders as I think of taking a paddle to the biggest - or sending the smallest on a collision course with its peers!
Color. What can I say? It is not uniform. We call them red, but they are not red. Compared to the red of my Folgers coffee can, even the reddest is clearly orange red. And the orange reddest oddly verges on the sick green.
Although the ripest are uniform in color and appear ready to burst open and share that uniformity with the rest of the world at any second, the rest coquettishly reveal their veins and other inner pleasures through translucent skin.
Was it a sin to pick them? To separate them at such a tender age from their parent plants? Perchance to eat??
The conscience cringes even as the mouth drools.
I search in the phone book in vain for a Cherry Tomato Sinners Hot Line....
I find no such thing.
Curiosity quickly replaces guilt.
I carefully seize one of the little round balls of wonder that I harvested yesterday (or perhaps the day before - hard to tell, since the tag has faded) and perform a careful fruitectomy atop a dinner plate with a cheese knife grabbed at random from a cluttered drawer.
Amazingly, 96 seeds are counted within the single small orb.
Hearing wifely footsteps, I dispose of the fleshy evidence and studiously ponder the seeds that remain behind in a gelatinous ooze not terribly dissimilar in amount and texture to... umm, other, similar things.
Simple math: 96 seeds times 135 orbs equals... 12,960.
Blinking once or twice, I cast a wary eye over the expanse of botanical extravagance laid out before me.
"And if one of those seeds should happen to fall...." I sing.
I command myself to stop.
That way lies madness!
Better to imagine each of those seeds finding their way to my yard and... sprouting?
A quiver runs through my life. Why, if merely half the seeds in one day's harvest of fruit were to end up in my lawn...!
In ANYONE'S lawn...!!
I can feel the sweat breaking out across my brow. In a frantic attempt to fend off a night full of vine-covered nightmares, I recall and focus on an image from yesterday - an image of the first changing maple leaves of the season. Not far away. And distinctly... red.
I need to go. I need to grab my ladder, my flashlight, and my Folgers can and see for myself if tonight's nightmares are better devoted to cherry tomato plants taking over the world or to some trans-species conspiracy of rapidly spreading flame-like color.
I need to GO!!
Pausing only long enough to place 135 orbs in various places of solitary confinement throughout my house.
And to hastily slurp down those 96 innocent-looking little seeds....
fast tractor ride back
to a fallow field of thought
home to pointlessly rotate the entries
in hopes that something good might pop up
further proof that paying certain people not to harvest their words
is some of the best money government can spend
(©Now by DJB under the light of a 7-watt crescent moon)