Rotten Tomatoes

So, I had made some arrangements to deliver to Lesley a whole bunch of tomatoes from the garden. And when I went to pick them up off the counter this morning, every single one of them was rotten. Like the mold had found them all at once and managed to seduce them as a crowd overnight. One burst when I touched it and almost instantly, small flies found it.

I went out to the garden, where I had not been in almost a week, relying on the kindness of family members to keep harvesting while I was sick.  And it’s almost unrecognizable now.  Everything is overgrown. Pumpkins stretch clear across the yard. The watermelons have made a pact with the cucumbers and the French Marigolds have completely overstepped their bounds. I should have known a person would never need 5,000 French Marigold seeds.

I felt bad, at first, about the tomatoes. Not that I couldn’t deliver them to Lesley, but that they’d gone bad, that they’d been wasted.

But it occurs to me that this is the wrong attitude to have to my sprawling, overgrown garden. To myself. To feel guilt over wasting food.

The garden is a luxury for me.  An abundance. What I have on top of what I usually have.

To get all weirdly frugal about it now is kind of strange.

I think a lot about what it means that almost every culture that ascribes gender to the earth, understands the earth as female. And what it means for me, as a woman, to let the garden grow, to let things grown and come to fruition and pass to death while I learn something other than “I have wasted that.”

I used to think that it was important to be in right relation to the land, and that being in right relation was as a proper steward of the land, as one who establishes order and delineates uses and tends and cultivates. But, as always, the thing is to understand yourself as of the land, not on it.

Not that I know that thing in my bones. Yet.

I still understand myself as the one who establishes order out of chaos. The stick that beats a path. Not the hand that reaches for the spinning wheel.

Maybe that doesn’t make sense.

The other day I was, as one does, having drinks with my drinking buddy, mourning the end of our occasional respite, and celebrating that his orders have come in and he’s going home and he said, “I thought my luck had run out. I had a good bout of luck there for a while, but I thought it was over.”

And I smiled, because it always tickles me to hear an ostensibly Catholic Swede talk about luck in a way his ancestors would immediately understand.

And now I think, somethings, they stick with you, and other things, you relearn at the behest of your rotten tomatoes.

“You Should Have Married Steve”

I was talking to the Man from GM the other day.  I haven’t talked to him in a while, which is on me. It’s good to have friends who’ve known you since you were sixteen, but I like people with a rough edge and sometimes, over the course of half of your life, that rough edge is going to snag on you, and that’s not going to be that nice.

He will, occasionally, tease me about the guy who stalked me and I will, occasionally, get fed up with it, and we won’t talk for a while (though that is certainly not the only reason we don’t talk for long stretches).  I think that’s a fair assessment. It’s not so much the teasing that I mind, it’s that, in order to tease about something like that with your friend, you have to assume that it’s over and done, that it’s now inconsequential.

And I certainly like to say things like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter, that was a long time ago,” so I have certainly said repeatedly to him that it’s inconsequential and doesn’t matter.

But I still don’t want to be teased about it.

Anyway, he called and actually did not mention that at all, so I don’t know why I’m mentioning it, except that everyone who tells you I’m a giant bitch is right, but what can you do?

He called instead to say I should have married Steve. Steve was this sweet guy we knew in high school to whom I was, surprisingly or not if you read the last paragraph, an enormous bitch. I did him wrong on the way sixteen year old girls do sixteen year old guys wrong and he was kind enough to not tell the whole world about it.

The Man from GM’s reasoning was that Steve would have been easy for me to boss around and I could have gone to work and run the family and Steve could have stayed home and carried out my will. (Yes, stay at home mothers, you will be shocked to learn that your role is to carry out the will of the family runner. Or shoot, maybe I’m misunderstanding and your role is to carry out my will. In which case, get to baking me some cookies, woman! And give me smooches!)

Of course, I haven’t talked to or seen Steve in almost twenty years, so why he’s coming up now, I don’t know. Except that I’m 35 and not married and I guess should be looking back on my life to see where I went so wrong.

I’m only guessing because that seems to be the attitude of my parents when it comes to the Man from GM. Why, oh why, can I not be nicer to him so that he will acquiesce and marry me?  I sometimes wonder if my parents didn’t give his parents a bunch of cows 20 years ago and are still hoping to also be able to come through with the daughter-in-law.

I always argue that the Man from GM and I cannot get married because either one or the other of us would end up in prison for having done the other one in or we would spend the vast majority of our time fighting and then not speaking to each other.

My dad says, “Yeah, that sounds like a lot of marriages.”

And I guess that’s supposed to be the punchline but it makes me really sad.