Coming of Age

An exercise that I wrote in my Thursday writing group.  I have been working intensively on fiction writing skills and not on my blog. It IS garden related so I thought I’d post it here.

Red, it’s almost always got to be red, the color of lust, the beating heart, the cut-vein red of an open wound.  And round like the sun, with the curving, firm heft of a young woman’s breast. 

Anticipation is a part of it, the days waiting, praying to the weather gods, not too cold, not too wet, now not too hot, please.

Worship of the bees.  Just in case, I take an old electric toothbrush to the blossoms or snap my fingers next to their small yellow flowers.  The pollen is necessary.

And smell.  There has to be a ripe, rich odor, slightly acid, sweet.  The tannic smell of brushed branches, their green-yellow sap burning my skin, is all a part of this.  The summer’s first tomato.

It was tomatoes that bought me to this garden, to any garden, in the sense of tending plants.  Well, them and roses.

I was raised on a farm.  My first memories are of vast fields.  Planting corn, it was my job to stomp each hill once the seeds were covered.  The hills went on, beyond my father’s towering frame, to the sky.

I realize now that much of my early years in the garden were because there was no childcare, no pre-school. So I spent my summer days learning soil, small red bugs lighting up the brown; curly fat worms, spiders, my playmates.  Weeds the enemy, the purpose of our labor.

Rebel youth,  I grew to hate the heat, the work and the isolation of the farm, to dream of living in a house like grandpa and grandma’s in Detroit where evenings were spent on shaded porches, chatting with the neighbors, the ice cream shop a short city block away.  Someday, I thought.

Boarding schools and colleges and big cities later though, I hungered for tomatoes.  Grocery stores sold pinkish things that would turn some approximate shade of red but never make my heart beat faster.  Never remind me of the sun’s heat in August or the last pickings under a cold harvest moon in October, racing to beat the frost.

Now I need a patch of ground, a piece of the sun for myself and the bearing of the tomatoes inside of me, long buried seeds, waiting for a rebirth that only I can bring.

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