This article was provided by Sylvia Lovely, firstname.lastname@example.org
If winning Best Picture Oscar 2023 means anything, “Everything Everywhere at Once” says a lot about life today. Our life stories are reenactments of Dorothy and Toto in the middle of the Wizard of Oz tornado before landing in Oz to find new threats. Just as Dorothy longs for home, so we too long for the unappreciated positive traditions that are quickly fading with time. Think living off the land, quilting, writing and other activities that took time but were immensely rewarding.
What that has to do with tomatoes begins with my parents moving from Ohio to Kentucky to care for my boys. As soon as the boys were born, my mother retired from her job as a school custodian and my father, already retired, was elated for the opportunity to return and care for the boys.
He, like too many Kentuckians, left for the opportunities for the uneducated in the factories of the north. His dream of farming in his beloved native Appalachia came to an end, replaced with a bigger dream of providing a better life for his family. I was born in a charity hospital in Frenchburg and and figure that I was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was three months old when, along with my mother and brother and me, he headed north in the old pick up truck on what was then a ribbon of road to the promised land and a job at National Cash Register in Dayton, Ohio.
They moved with us into our dream starter home in a Lexington suburb. We were proud as if it were a mansion. We anxiously awaited our first spring when we cleaned out the blighted bushes in front of the house to make way for the meager landscaping we could afford. Returning at the end of one day, I noticed that where we had cleaned out beds in front of the picture window for the planting of standard bushes were funny looking plants. What in the world were they?
My father greeted me with the announcement that he had planted his spring crop of tomatoes…in my flower beds! What else were those dirt patches for, after all? I remember seething with anger as in “Jack in the Beanstock” fashion they grew and grew and were soon towering above the picture windows. I was unappreciative and so were my neighbors.
It was only much later that I came to appreciate my father’s connection to the land. He could name every tree and bush and had a innate ability to nurture and grow them. In my shame, I find myself agreeing with him – What else was better for those dirt patches than some of the finest tomatoes ever imagined.
Begin writing your own stories of tradition that need to be kept alive. It is not about the good old days – as many were not – but about sorting out those stories and moments that make up the tapestry of our better selves.
Join me in my upcoming class, “Writing the Stories of Your Life” to be held in-person at the Good Foods Co-op Community room, April 16 and May 10 from 6 until 8:00 p.m. when we will write our stories together! You can sign up for the class here.