Growing tomatoes and hope

I planted tomatoes last weekend. On the face of it, that was a silly thing to do. A city resident, I don't have a real garden, just a patio with large flowerpots. Besides, it will be the middle of August – probably much later – before my tiny plants bear their first fruit. And since I live in Boston, the harvest season will be short.

Basically, this was a decision of the heart and not the head. It was a cold, miserable day. Temperatures attempted to climb out of the 50s, but never succeeded. When a friend brought me six tomato transplants, they suddenly became the symbol of the warm, sunny summer that I longed for.

When I lived in the South, I usually picked my first homegrown tomato on the Fourth of July. So, to me, those tiny plants represented hope. Hope that the much-anticipated warmer weather would finally arrive. Hope that the tomatoes would produce a bounteous crop in less-than-optimum city conditions.

They also fueled dreams: Next year, I told myself, I would start sooner, and I would find tomatoes that ripened earlier. I envisioned hundreds of tomatoes on lush vines reaching for the sky.

OK, maybe the cold had affected my good judgment. But one thing that appeals to me about gardening is the sense of anticipation it gives you. When I had a large daylily garden, I couldn't wait to go out each morning to see which flowers had opened. I always get excited wondering if a new rose is going to be as beautiful as its photo.

In my mind, I can already taste my home-grown tomatoes, picked warm from the vine, the juice running down my chin. The reality may be shivery temperatures and an overabundance of rainfall, but I'm going to cling to my dream.

Hope grows anywhere.

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