Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holy! Holy! Holy! This tomato is holy!

Allen Ginsberg left out the earthy, homegrown, heirloom tomato in his litany of holiness in "Footnote to Howl", but if he were here, he would totally get it. This is it. This simple, gorgeous fruit disguised as a vegetable, plucked out of the backyard, gently washed, and savored. It is holy.

I fell in love this summer. I fell in love with my garden. It's such a weird thing to say... a hard thing to say with out seeming cheesy and melodramatic, but it's absolutely true. It amazes me that, with the smallest amount of effort, I was able to produce a large quantity of food in what turned out to be hostile ground.

It appears my yard was filled with throw away dirt. Dirt filled with little pieces of plastic and garbage, sandy dirt with minimal nutrients. I didn't have many pests this year because, as Uncle J pointed out, my yard was a wasteland. Yet, I added about an inch of compost and an irrigation system to a nematode infested desert and something grew. Not everything made it. Not everything produced a ton of veg, but it produced beyond my expectations. Even my stunted little apple trees produced this year... and the apples were tasty!

In the mean time, I learned a lot about nurturing something and watching it grow. One of my friends expressed hesitation to start a garden due to the work involved, especially the weeding. I worried about that, too, until I started doing it. Weeding. Weeding was kind of a pain, but considering what the garden produced in the end, it was worth it.

Over the summer, I noticed I talked about my garden the same way people talk about children. I'm sure the same rules apply to most things we discover a passion for. We know the results will be worth the sacrifices, annoyances, and frustrations we have to go through to get to the good parts. I see this tomato and I think, "I created this. Isn't it amazing?"

At the same time, I know I can't take all the credit. I just put the seed in the ground, gave it some tools, and the sun, earth, water, and seed did the rest. We did it together. I nurtured it and, then, it nurtured me.

When I weeded, when I talked to the plants, when I reaped the bounty of harvest, I felt connected, grounded, amazed, euphoric, peaceful. I know the garden gave me more than food because that connectedness is priceless. I mean, I haven't found it in many places.

Perhaps it's because I don't have much control over what I eat due to my job... I feel disconnected from food most of the time- it's a chore to eat at 90% of the restaurants I visit for work. Maybe that's why eating a squash from my backyard seems so magical. I know exactly where it came from and what it took to create it. It doesn't get any more local than that, does it?

Allen Ginsberg wrote, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix..." Maybe his generation just needed to start a garden. Don't do drugs, kids. Grow food. And read stuff once in awhile.

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