by Christine Baker
We had no idea that planting a fall garden in 2021 would present so many challenges. Most of them have been minor and are behind us now, yet, this present one, along with all the others, had not been anticipated.
My husband came up with the idea of planting fall tomatoes, although I’m not normally a fan of tomatoes in the wintertime, other than for soups or sauces. Unbeknownst to us, as we were quite preoccupied with our pole bean fiasco, all of the tomato seeds came up along with numerous extras in various places in our garden. We found ourselves in the thick of a Louisiana winter with an abundance of beautiful green tomatoes and not sure how to get them to ripen.
When our harvest outgrew our countertops and windowsills, we knew we had a problem. My husband began to search out natural ways to ripen our bounty before we lost it. He found a method that sounded way too simple to work. The farmers almanac suggested four different methods of helping green tomatoes ripen naturally indoors.* We employed the first suggestion. As usual, I was skeptical, not a trait I’m rather proud of. Yet, right before our eyes, our green tomatoes began to turn splotchy and then to beautiful red tomatoes.
What did this? The simplicity of fruit placed together and a natural gas they each released called ethylene helped to stimulate the ripening in both fruits. Our bounty was saved.
What did I learn from this dilemma? I learned that just as fruit needs other fruit, I need other people and other people need other people. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything other than proper, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers, it has taught us that good living is living good together.
As I pondered this new-found wisdom, I made a mental note to spend more time in this new year engaging other people. Is that even possible in the day and age in which we live? Yes, I believe it is.
Here are some practical ways I do it:
First, when you find yourself at the grocery store, post office or doctor’s office, strike up a conversation with others. Put your phone away, lay the magazine or newspaper down and look the individual in the face and smile. You can meet the most interesting people and come away enriching others and being enriched at the same time.
I was at a big box store the other day and I kept hearing a child scream and a mother fussing. As I went towards the aisle I needed, you guessed it, I found the culprits, a mother with four small children, all in disarray. I wanted to wince and turn away, but instead I said, “Oh, these days shall soon pass, little Momma.” She looked up at me and tried to smile. I patted her arm as I passed by, grabbed what I needed and said, “These children are precious. Enjoy them while you have them.” That’s all it took to tell her I had seen her and I understood her dilemma.
Second, make your neighbor some cookies, a pie or a plate of whatever it is that you are eating at the moment. Years ago when we lived in south Louisiana, I often made an extra plate of food for our neighbor across the street from us. She was a single woman who kept long hours teaching at our local middle-school. I would wrap it up in one of my grocery store give-away plates covered in plastic wrap and send one of my boys over with it while it was still piping hot. This simple act grew a fondness between us. I still hear from her from time-to-time, inquiring about us all and relishing the years of good memories from our times together.
Third, listen to people. Lend your ear without judgment. A lot of people are lonely and just need someone who will listen without trying to fix them. Life is hard, but life with others on your side makes it a little easier.
Lastly, pray for people. Pray for people who are sick. Pray for people who struggle to make ends meet. Pray for the good of the town or city you live in. Pray for the leaders of this great nation. Years ago, a woman I did not know contacted me on social media around Christmastime. She was distraught about her grandson. He had been arrested on charges that were very serious and she was brokenhearted. I couldn’t change any of her situation, but I did the only thing I knew to do, I prayed with her and encouraged her to continue to pray to God for mercy and help. Eventually, her grandson was sentenced and sent to prison, but she was able to withstand it all, I believe, because of prayer.
A new year is here and with it a new start. Our family is still enjoying red-ripe tomatoes, the benefits of putting fruit together to do “what fruit do,” help each other to be the best that they can be. Make it a personal goal this year to join with others and visit more. Set out to be a friend and in doing so, I have no doubt, you’ll have an abundance of friends.
As always, Good eating! Good loving! Good living together!
Au revoir, mes amis!
P.S. I’m a local writer and author (Who Am I? 31 Days to Discovering Your Identity in Christ, found @ the Amazon Bookstore) who loves all things Louisiana, gardening and Jesus, although not necessarily in that order. You can connect with me on Facebook at Christine Vidrine Baker, From One Woman’s Heart to Another on Facebook and Instagram or at Chriskvbaker@gmail.com