Paris Goodnight: Believing in tomorrow, and hoping for rain

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2022

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow, according to the sign at the community garden in Spencer.

That’s good enough for me because a lot of things that have gone wrong can be solved with a good ol’ tomato sandwich straight from your backyard garden, especially if it includes a little Duke’s Mayonnaise, and maybe a little salt and pepper just for good measure.

It’s been awful dry out in the countryside where I live, and I’ve heard of plenty of farmers sweating it out just hoping for a little rain to come our way. I’ve seen storm clouds brewing as I left home and headed downtown, then watched as buckets of rain poured in while I was at the office, only to return home and find the storm had passed by and left the neighborhood high and dry. I know the good Lord causes the rain to fall on the just and unjust alike, but I’m still hoping for a little more than a sprinkle to head our way before long.

If you’ve been around as long as I have, you know dry seasons come and dry seasons go, with some being worse than others. I haven’t heard of anyone out mowing grass where the waters of High Rock Lake used to be and never thought I’d see such a thing until longtime Post photographer James Barringer snapped shots of people doing just that back in the early days of this century when the spigot really turned off for the whole area. Now that was a real drought.

I remember hearing my grandfather talk about how dry it was, and he would know because he worked outside on his farm everyday. But he said the same thing every summer when the heat went up and nothing came down. Somehow they managed, and I’m sure we will too.

The last rain we got around my neck of the woods was an overnight storm, just the way I like it. And it did cause plenty of things in the backyard to perk up. I’d already picked a few small tomatoes that were starting to ripen a little earlier, but I finally got one that was decent enough size to slice up and put between two pieces of bread instead of just dicing up to go on a salad.

That is a sure sign of summer in my eyes.

If things are going just right, I usually try to have one tomato sandwich a day during the growing season. I don’t always stick to that, but it’s a solid goal to shoot for.

My in-laws were convinced that there was something in the New Jersey dirt that created the best tomatoes in the world. And they didn’t mind telling anyone who would listen that theory. I’m not convinced it was the soil up north, but more likely everyone’s tomatoes were better back then. That was, of course, in the good old days when everything apparently was better.

But since not everyone buys into that theory, I’m not even allowed to talk about how things were back in the day around my house.

Is the sun a little hotter now, or is the air a little less clean? Maybe, but I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who said tomatoes were better all those years ago because lots of things were better back then, if memory serves correct, which it doesn’t always do.

Even the sunshine on my shoulders probably felt better back then, but that doesn’t stop me from getting just a little of that when I’m out of the shade — but not too much, because I’m not really one for sunscreen unless I’m going to be out roasting in it for the long haul somewhere.

I know it didn’t seem as hot when I was younger even if the thermometer is reading the same number now as it did then.

There’s probably a lot of folks like me who know they wouldn’t last long if they were dependent on what they could grow on their own with what rain water was available. But that’s why we do what we do and the real gardeners do what they do, and we don’t complain about farmers with our mouths full.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Post.