Feels like the first time
Updated: May 29, 2019
With my tomatoes having finally set fruit, I'm daydreaming about the way those acidic berries' flavors will soon dance across my tongue. Meanwhile, lyrics to songs like Foreigner's "Feels like the first time," Madonna's "Like a virgin," and Deanna Carter's "Strawberry Wine" play in the background.
Maybe from a philosophical standpoint, that's what I love so much about the tomato, in my mind symbolizing the aura and magic of everything that happens in summer. Let's not mention that these days it's certainly the closest I get to the anticipation of the last day of school!
If you feel like chasing me down the rabbit hole that is my mind, close your eyes and go with me on a journey. Okay, you can't close your eyes, but daydream with me. Step back to an era that seems long gone now, almost historic. Not quite as historic as the canoeing scene in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but certainly that romanticized though on a more modest budget.
...waiting for the acidic bite on my tongue as my teeth break the skin of that first tomato is where my anticipation settles now.
Growing up, I spent a week every summer camping (RVing in a state park) with my grandparents and a group they had been part of for decades. My dad feared taking time off work during the summer, the busy season when a paycheck was reliable, so our family never took vacations. He worked from sunup to sundown for as long as the weather permitted, weekends included, ultimately meaning that week at the lake was it - the "what did you do this summer" story I would tell when school started in the fall.
The moment that week came to a close, I began revisiting it in my memory over and over. Christmas meant a visit with my grandparents and their circle of friends from church, which to me signaled the time to start daydreaming about the memories to be made in the coming summer.
Nearly 20 years after my last camping trip with my grandparents, waiting for the acidic bite on my tongue as my teeth break the skin of that first tomato is where my anticipation settles now. The priorities have shifted too. Now, I wait for fruit set, check on a maturing fruit, and stop just shy of selling my soul to thwart blossom end rot. These concerns replace things like hunting for a swimsuit that will stand up to a waterskiing session behind Mr. Middleton's boat or a life jacket to keep me afloat when Nathan and Chase finally bounce me off the inner tube.
They say you can't go home again, but something about the flavor of that first homegrown tomato every year sure makes it taste possible.
With that, it's time to cue a different earworm, this time Toby Keith lyrics, "I'm not as good as I once was..." It's true, but in my tomato garden, I can still knock Nathan and Chase off their inner tubes.
P.S. If you're not familiar with any of the songs I've mentioned or "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" you should check them out. And don't give me that, "I don't like country music" nonsense. If Ray Charles and Steven Tyler can appreciate it, you can too.