In my garden, there is a self-sewn tomato plant that is heavy with fruit, green tom thumbs highly unlikely to ripen red on the vine as it is the middle of winter. It doesn’t look out of sorts, it is healthy, strong, with plenty of flowers and leaves, and there are a range of pollinators who seem to still be visiting as well.
This plant, out of place, out of time, but not out of sight, is my teacher this week. The temperatures are cool and getting cooler so I don’t see the fruit going red any time soon, so I may pluck them from the vine and get them to ripen inside … but I am not sure about that yet. And green tomatoes can still be harvested and eaten in all kinds of ways. Tomato chutney might be beckoning, and I keep remembering scenes from that extraordinary movie starring Kathy Bates, Fried Green Tomatoes. The green tomatoes remind me that every one of us has a place to bloom and fruit and it does not have to be in keeping with the seasons. Times are changing.
Brushing against the leaves to stake up this out of season climber, releases that aroma that makes me think it is summer and harvest time. I have hung onto this smell and am treating the plant as a reminder that it is harvest time in my life. I am in a season of bringing together all I know about community and public service, about entrepreneurship and innovation, about gender and racial justice, about measurement and meaning.
This season might be short compared to other seasons in my life like motherhood, or daughterhood, but it is definitely a season. This season, like all others has its own light, temperature and weather pattern. There is an afternoon glow, not unlike a Hans Heysen painting or a set of Colin Thiele paragraphs from Sun on the Stubble. This glow is soft, golden, lingering and close to the ground. The temperature is cool, but not so cold, that fruit will stop appearing on the vine, and actually fruiting in clusters and making themselves visible amongst the leaves. The weather is a mixture of storms, squally rain and bursts of glorious sunshine with rays occasionally creating rainbow smudges in the sky. I am not under estimating the task of ripening that might need to take place by being cut away from the vine.
As my campaign starts to take shape, I had one elected member ask me how come everyone seemed to know me? I was thrilled with this feedback and felt like some old networks had kicked back in and were starting to be visible. Another elected member mansplained something to me and a few other potential councillors to demonstrate perhaps his prowess and what it means to him to be an elected councillor. Again, I took this as a compliment as he clearly felt the need to assert authority, mark his territory, in what was an un-conversation.
An un-conversation, is my new way of describing people who have something to say so they can be hear themselves into speech for their own audiences. It is not a dialogue, it is more like a soliloquy, and I am unwilling to be in the audience. An un-conversation requires a response that is completely off topic and take into another realm. Perhaps you were hearing about dalmatians, when you took the conversation to another place and another time completely disconnected from dalmatians?
Try a topic that builds into your agenda if nothing else you can at least practice talking about it! Just like the tomatoes they are doing their own thing and not taking any notice of what the universe might be saying is the season.
Whatever invisible natural power source that is enabling the tomato plant to thrive and bear fruit is surely not too far away from the drive and energy that I am experiencing as I stand firm, rooted in my own story, able to branch out, be fertile, attract collaborators to pollinate and help flowers turn into fruit and maybe transform into something quite tasty, unexpected and irresistible.
What is hidden in the soil that enabled this plant to take shape, cannot be under estimated. As any grower and farmer knows, everything starts with the soil.
Good soil is full of nutrients, knows how to hold water and how to let the water flow and drain away. The soil is invisible and indispensable. What turns up above ground is visible and thriving.
Thank you to the chooks who pooped on the soil that must have had a tomato seed stored, ready to unleash on an unsuspecting garden and deliver something quite fresh and unseasonal.
I love my lessons from the garden.