Tomato time has followed lotsa lettuce, the bean bonanza and quantities of cucumbers. We are amazed at how much food we're gathering from this tiny plot.
The amazement comes partly from the comparison between this garden and our efforts at growing vegetables on North Caicos.
North Caicos is known as the Garden Island of the Turks and Caicos. It's a relative term; it has mostly sandy and rocky soil instead of the completely sandy and rocky land of the other islands. However, there is a lens of water underground and North has long produced local corn, sweet potatoes and cassava. Coconut, guava, papaya and mango trees do well. But getting a tomato, cucumber or bean to grow? Different story.
We tried hard. We watered a lot. We added Miracle-Gro. We composted (itself a challenge because the island doesn't have earthworms as we know them). When a vegetable actually appeared on a plant, we worked to protect it from the many bugs that could snatch it away.
We had some success, but it was hard-won. I treasured each tomato, and I remember my friend Lynn proudly serving her ONE cucumber as an appetizer, sliced and salted. Meanwhile, my guava tree was popping so prodigiously that I was giving sacks of the fruit away and inventing Guava Coffee Cake and Guavodka-Tonic drinks.
The lesson is pretty obvious. Things that come to us easily are less appreciated than those that require work. Yet when I try to apply the lesson to writing, I bump into the issue of overwriting -- when you work so hard on a scene or description that it becomes wrought instead of written. And readers can tell that.
So sometimes the best self-advice is to just relax and let it come as it will. Forget about the peppers and pick a peck of pickled papaya.
Because sometimes a tomato is just a tomato.