This I Believe

Fern - Scottsdale, Arizona
Entered on June 8, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: family, legacy, nature

An Ode to a Tomato—What Nature Can Teach Us

In the spring I purchased six small Early Girl tomato plants and placed them in large pots on my patio. I don’t know why I did this, as a few weeks before my son had removed thirty to forty potted plants to make my watering chores simpler in the coming summer months.

As the weeks went by I watered and fed the tomato plants and said loving words to them. When the plants grew upwards of four feet tall, I remembered that in the past I had grown only Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes in containers. I don’t know what possessed me to buy the Early Girl brand, which is a medium-size tomato. It was too late now, as blossoms began to present themselves in profusion on all the plants.

One day as I watered one of the pots my eye was drawn to a tiny grape-size tomato. I was in awe and then in absolute delight. I had been too busy for too long to spend any time up close and personal with nature. The joy I felt at the sight of this tiny tomato was indescribable.

In the days and weeks that followed, I remembered the intense pleasure my late husband experienced in his gardening. Although he was a sophisticated and successful executive, his pride and joy in life was expressed in being a master gardener. One summer, we returned from a trip to China near midnight and he raced to the garden, yelling out as he ran “Put on a pot of water to boil.” I did. He returned a few minutes later, face flushed, a huge grin on his face and his arms overflowing with ears of corn and red-ripe Early Girl tomatoes; his favorite variety.

I had often wondered how my husband maintained his inner calm in the stress and strain of corporate life; now I understand. It was by connecting with nature that he was able to soothe his nerves and realign with the tranquil rhythm of Life.

He was a born teacher and I a willing student. I was also his number one “weeder,” and as such I heard these homespun homilies repeated many times: Take care of nature and nature will take care of you. Having patience is one of nature’s biggest lessons. Nature reminds us that we are not alone in the universe. Whether it is the delicate blossom of a flower or a hurricane-force wind that flattens us—it is the continuing song of God.

I believe when we can slow down and allow ourselves to be in harmony with nature, we will find inner peace. A tomato that is now the size of a tennis ball did it for me.

O small green orb that calmed my spirit and mind – you take no notice of sun, wind, rain or me – yet you renewed my desire to slow down and just be. #