Monday, September 8, 2008

Tomato Gardens: Powerful Place Creator

At their invitation, I stopped by Jo and Tom's house last weekend to pick tomatoes from their garden; they'd gone on vacation for the week and didn't want their vegetables to go to waste. Standing there filling my basket, I felt like I'd entered Paradise.

Their garden, fenced and gated to keep out the deer, was alive with color -- tomatoes hung in profusion off plants taller than myself and marigolds and equally colorful companions flourished in grand displays -- in the garden, around the doorways, in an old bathtub by the barn, along the paths, in an ancient wheelbarrow, and in pots hanging from porches and beams. Behind the house, apple trees were heavy with fruit, still a bit green, but starting to turn red in the late August heat.

I asked Jo, upon her return, who had planted all the beautiful flowers. "Tom," she told me. "He loves to plant flowers. He does it every year. And every year he plants more and more." She told me that she had planted and tended the tomatoes, bringing bags to neighbors who asked for them and even inviting Aldo and me over earlier in the summer for a "Tomato Fest," a grand tomato feast.

I know how much work it is to plant so many flowers and have so many vegetables. And it gave me an even deeper insight into Tom and Jo and why I like them so much. The love for this land (affectionately known as "Lacy Land") came through those flowers and those tomatoes, just like my own grandfather's love came through his vegetable and flower gardens, and I felt at home there, just as I always did at my grandparents' home.

I think gardening can be a powerful way to create Place since it reveals love, respect, care and attention, emotions that translate into the Place itself and make it come alive. (Marilyn Finnemore)

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