My son loves tomatoes.
Whenever he has the chance, he toddles down the back walk and out into the garden, where he stops and gazes with amazement at our three towering tomato plants. Tom’s two-and-a-half-foot frame is dwarfed beside plants that stretch two and three times his height.
Currently, the bushes are loaded with unripe tomatoes, just waiting for a sunny day so the hard green fruits will soften and warm into shades of salmon, carnelian, ruby, vermillion. But Tom doesn’t care about the color. It’s the shape. The texture. The squirty seeds that stick to everything and are practically impossible to get off.
We have a yellow cherry tomato bush that produces tomatoes by the bushel. Tom will stuff handfuls of tiny sweet tomatoes in his mouth, then giggle as the seeds shoot out and run down the front of his shirt.
If I turn my back for just a second, he will pluck two large fruits from the overgrown vines, one for each hand. Then he will toddle around the yard with his precious finds, wobbling to and fro, arms outstretched and balanced with tomatoes.
Sometimes, he will grab one and take a big bite. He doesn’t really mind the unripe ones, except that they are harder to get his teeth into. But a ripe, juicy one! Oh, the smile. Oh the gobbling of the tomato flesh, warm from the sun. Oh, the sticky, sticky seeds, and the red staining juice on Tom’s clean(ish) T-shirt.