Monday, December 5, 2011

Uncle Howard's Tomato

It was surprising how many people read the post about the garden story contest.  Thanks for reading!

You never know when you propose these things exactly how they will be received.  Will, in fact ANYBODY send me a little story?

As with everything I do, numbers really don't mean too much. I'm happy with a few exquisite tomatoes, as opposed to a field of edible cardboard. I'm happy when I hold an event if a few folks come, or if lots of people come.

So I had 3 entries. And I think I am grateful for that.  If I'd had 10 entries, how would I possibly have picked a winner?

And I loved all 3.

Genevieve for the sheer joy that comes out in her story as she describes her garden successes.  I can relate to being in the garden in my nightgown.  On more than one occasion...the joy of country living! Michelle and her tenacity in spearheading what is going to be a wonderful community garden in Burlington.

And Rob's.

Well Rob, that is just a great story! It makes me think of heirlooms and the stories that are associated with them, and of course the huge family connection we have to specific foods. I hope Uncle Howard's tomato is out there growing and thriving as it's loss would be terrible. I mean really... a tomato that can bring that much joy to a person who no longer enjoys food? That's a treasure.

So Uncle Howard"s Tomato is my winner. But in the true spirit of gardening, and because I enjoyed all three, Genevieve and Michelle, there will be 10 packets of seeds for you both as well.

Thanks so much for sharing your garden stories with me.

And now sit back and read this one. Love it!

Uncle Howard's Tomato

When he was nineteen, my mother's Uncle Howard got kicked in the head by a horse.  It knocked him unconscious for a few minutes, and when he "came to," he discovered that he no longer had a sense of smell.  And even worse, he had almost no sense of taste.

Imagine living a long life without the enjoyment of any olfactory or gustatory sense whatsoever: knowing you must eat, feeling hunger of course, but taking no pleasure in chewing and swallowing.  My Great Uncle Howard was a very thin man.  He performed the chore of eating purely for necessity, and if not for his wife, my Great Aunt Martha, he probably would have forgotten to eat more often than not.

One year I drove my Grandfather and Grandmother to Florida, and we stopped in to visit Howard and Martha, who had a winter cottage on a residential piece of land.  There, Howard revealed to us that although his sense of smell was completely and utterly gone, he did still have a tiny bit of taste sensation.  He could only taste one thing, however.  He was very excited, because he had finally grown a tomato in his garden that he could actually taste.

He waxed eloquent over the taste of that particular tomato, and crooned over its size and shape. To think, he had grown it in his own garden.  Finally, after all of these years, he could again taste food!

Isaac Asimov wrote a short story where life has evolved on a distant planet under multiple suns. Only once every couple of millennia did the suns align on one side of the planet, so that half the world was enveloped in night and the beings there could see stars.  Only once every couple of millennia, therefore, could they see and wonder at the true extent of the universe.  For Uncle Howard, the taste of that tomato was like a single window into a universe that he thought was forever denied to him.

I wish now that I had paid closer attention to the type of tomato Uncle Howard had discovered. Does that tomato still exist?  Has someone kept its seed alive, growing it year after year?  Would its taste be pleasant to me, or is it so profoundly tomatoey that only a person without a nose could eat it?

When I pick a tomato from my backyard garden plants, I smell its scent, fresh from the vine, a scent that is truer than any supermarket tomato can give you.  I take a bite, grateful that I can taste it.  It tastes so good.  I think of my Uncle Howard and I wonder: is this the one?


Sam said...

yup, that's what it's all about alright! Congrats to all three of you!!

Unknown said...

That's a lovely story - or should I say a love apple story! Congrats!!!

Iz said...

Such a lovely post!