My activities for the month of August can be summed up in two words: eating tomatoes and hiking. This time last year I posted a blog with a photo of my crop, which consisted of one tiny red tomato nestled in the palm of my hand. This year the weather and our decision to buy adult tomato plants that were already flowering has led to a crop that is still mostly green, but full of potential as long as the sunny days keep coming. I, who usually push the tomato slice in the restaurant salad to the side of my plate, am gobbling orange cherry tomatoes as if they were Hershey’s Kisses. The long-lost sweet flavor of tomatoes has returned, bringing joy to the taste buds. It reminds me of one of my favorite poems, “She Spoke of Tomatoes” by Judith Hougen. Here is an excerpt:
tomatoes lit up the kitchen counter,
gorgeous redheads scattered sexy
at her elbow.”
Besides eating, photographing and admiring my tomatoes, and sighing when I think about their transient nature, I have rediscovered a taste for hiking this month. We haven’t climbed a steep trail for many years, but the trip to Mt. Rainier whetted my appetite. Yesterday we took our third hike of the month, this one to Mt. Si, or as the joke goes among those put off by the steepness of the climb, “Mt. Sigh.” I read that this trail is the most popular in the state and yesterday’s crowd of hikers and dogs racing up the four-mile high cliff gave us evidence of this. We covered only two of the four miles required to reach the summit, but were proud of our success and pleased that we had gained stamina in a relatively short time.
Tomatoes and hiking don’t have a lot in common, except that they represent the pleasures to be found in our brief summers and bring us closer to the natural world. And at the end of the season I’ll be sighing about the loss of both.