It’s a conversation one can expect just about this time every year: the garden talk. All about what veggies to plant this season (the garlic don’t count, since they were planted last Fall). And I feel safe in saying someone in our house – not me – has shown some impulse control issues when it comes to tomato plants.
ASIDE: That same someone’s eyes may have been bigger than the garden boundaries last year when the squash plants got into a tussle with the cucumbers, resulting in a West Side Story-style fight scene complete with a love child from one Maria Cucumber and Tony Squash that we were a little bit frightened by until we finally cut it open in November to see if a tiny alien would spring out of the inside. When none did, my husband thought that the local wildlife might enjoy this unusual snack and chucked it into a nearby farm field. But I digress.
I was one cup of coffee ahead of that someone when the topic was raised in our kitchen: time to pick up a few plants for the garden.
Trying to keep my tone casual, I asked “how many tomato plants were you thinking of this year? Maybe, four?”
Keeping his tone equally casual, yet one could feel the tension thickening in the air: “Yeah, maybe. I was thinking four or six might work this year.”
And that’s when it hit me. That subtle gesture used by the great late Sir Alec Guinness in the Star Wars I/Episode IV when sneaking one young Skywalker past some Imperial guards. Wouldn’t hurt to give it a try, I thought. And that’s how I wound up standing, in my pajamas, half-caffeinated, sweeping my hand with only four fingers sticking up (thumb tucked into my palm) across the air in front of my face while serenely replying, “four is a magic number.”
“Yeah, but six is an even half-dozen,” came the rejoinder.
I was undaunted. And patient. And as the conversation continued over the space of a weekend – as such conversations are wont to do – I encouraged the idea of only four tomato plants.
Meanwhile, the mental flashbacks continued: of aborted ventures into the garden because the wall of tomato plants were impenetrable; the ill-fated journeys into the tomato hedge to pick that gorgeous red orb I could see just hanging out of reach – and the tomato plant was not giving it up; the trips up to the second story of the house to get an aerial view of the garden because one could no longer tell just what was going on in there at ground level. I wasn’t saying no to tomatoes, I thought to myself. I was offering what I thought was a reasonable idea for not necessarily testing the boundaries of the garden.
And for about 30 seconds, I succeeded.
We visited the local garden center where he likes to buy his tomato plants. And along with some other goodies to plant in the garden stood – 1, 2, 3, 4 tomato plants!
On the ride home, I praised – hearing that positive reinforcement is a good thing, and all – his restraint. I began forming hazy sun-drenched images in my mind of blithely tripping into the garden without tripping over a branch of tomato to pick fresh produce that would become something mouth-wateringly delicious in the kitchen. Of seeing the plants thrive where they are planted without pulling a shiv on their neighbors to make a little more room for themselves. But my daydreams were interrupted when I heard the words, “…and then if I think I need more tomato plants, I can always go to my brother’s greenhouse.”
I sense a disturbance in the Force.