By Art Parker
From the Fourth of July until the middle of August is a great time of year, especially this year. The runoff election is over and the General Election is three months away. That’s a good thing. We get a break from all the lies we hear from those saying they will do the right thing for us.
It is still a great time of year with or without an election cycle. There is not too much going on. School is out. Folks are vacationing. While the Alabama heat is unbearable I still love this time of year. Contrary to many others I would rather be in the heat of summer and its long days as opposed to the cold of winter and its short miserable days.
It’s also the time of year when I can see a great deal of work coming. The real busy time of year. Football season brings about loads of work, especially before the season starts. When the regular football season ends then the holidays are upon us. Another busy time.
So what is so special about right now, you ask?
To me I live for the summer days when I can eat fresh, southern tomatoes. Not those counterfeit things they grow in California or those winter tomatoes from Mexico. Those are just not the real thing.
A tomato grown in the south, in the summer, is the finest tomato in the world. As Mrs. Parker says, “They are too die for.”
I think what makes it so special for me is that I do not need to buy them. I just go to my backyard. That’s what makes them even better. Christine and I plant several plants in our special raised beds every year. We made the beds, we plant the plants. I call it the Parker farm.
I love watching them grow, obviously not by the minute, but as time goes by. The first week or so after planting I wonder if they will grow. It builds anxiety within me. I must have a homegrown tomato.
After a couple of weeks I see progress. After a month I see those beautiful yellow buds. The excitement builds. A few weeks after that I see those little-bitty tiny green things, like an alien is sticking its tongue out at you. If my wife sees it first she says, “Honey, come look at this.”
When one gets about half its final size the excitement grows. When it begins to turn red I begin to salivate and become impatient. And finally the day comes.
Christine and I have a ritual. The day before our first harvest she runs to the store and gets a loaf of white bread, something we usually don’t eat. She makes sure we have the proper mayo, none of this healthy stuff…you must have the real thing. Of course she buys a new can of pepper because I love pepper on a tomato. And she makes sure we have plenty of bacon.
For dinner the next day we pick the first tomatoes, cook the bacon, and enjoy a delicacy beyond compare-the southern grown tomato and bacon sandwich. Then, of course I usually make the traditional tomato sandwich, without the bacon. Believe me, I’m happier than a hog in the slop. There is nothing like it.
For the balance of the summer (and in to September, and hopefully October) the backyard tomato is king at the Parker house. You can only imagine how many we have. This year we planted seven plants. Yes, we eat them all. Every single one. When there is one that needs plucking we pluck it…and devour that sucker.
We lay off the bread pretty much after disposing of the initial loaf. I eat tomatoes with breakfast. If you have never done that you need to try. It’s wonderful. We eat many salads in the summer because of the tomatoes and other fresh produce readily available. I’m the salad maker. I pile everything in the salad bowl and save the tomatoes until last. Then, I cover everything else with my backyard yield.
It’s almost sad since I can see that the days are numbered for my tomato plants. But while I got ‘em growing I’m gonna eat ‘em. In fact. I’m off to the back yard to pluck a couple now.
It’s a great time of year.