Climactic Heaves And Then . . .

If your garden is anything like that of a friend of ours, your status with the neighbors, who often receive its ever-increasing overage, must be skyrocketing. This summer has produced one of the most bountiful home vegetable harvests in years, and the wonder is that it’s happening after an unusually cold spring, with temperatures in the 50s halfway into June. 

June was so cold, in fact, that memories of sixth-grade history lessons about 1816, the Year Without a Summer (also known as Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death), returned to haunt the chilly nights. But then came deliverance, a seemingly endless succession of glorious sunny days, with just enough rain in between to postpone that purchase of an automated sprinkler system for yet another year. 

Whether or not it was the climactic heaves that did it, our friend’s beefsteak and heirloom tomatoes, which barely staggered into September last year, overran their supports in mid-July; only a quick run to the hardware store for more stakes has saved the floppers from certain death-by-bug. They aren’t quite ready yet — the late start did take some toll — but the little Sungolds are showing color, and another week in the 80s should more than do it for the big ones. That first tomato — with “its remarkable amplitude and abundance, no pit, no husk, no leaves or thorns,” as the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda puts it, really is the “star of earth.”

As for all the other supernumeraries — eggplants, peppers, beets, lettuce, arugula, zucchini, cucumbers (Aaargh, six more Kirbies after a good rain, hiding under that big leaf!) — nothing to do but drop them on nearby doorsteps, maybe with a brief note: “Kindly do right by these orphans of the storm.”