Lessons from the Garden:Suckering Tomatoes

It’s 9am in the high tunnels and we are eager to beat the heat. With hundreds of tomato plants to be suckered, we set a pace to get out of this humid houses before 11am. Yes, we are suckering tomatoes. I started laughing when I heard this term, but this is the official term for the removal of those tiny parts of the plant that will grow into new stems and start sprouting their own flowers, which will result in more and more fruit. So, this seems like a good thing, right? Wrong.

These suckers grow so rapidly that, left to their own devices, we would have hundreds of flowers per plant and tons of beautiful green tomato leaves, but the fruit would be tiny and flavorless. Because just as it is in life, in the greenhouses and the botanical world, it’s all about allocation of resources.

As I sort through the rapid excitement of my next steps in life, with visa applications and tickets, I feel the need to ensure that my life be focused on a few, simple parts. If we don’t, we are left with tons of beautiful greenery but no delicious fruit in our lives. And if we’d like to extend that tomato metaphor, the leaves can be toxic, so while beautiful and ethereal in scent ( to my own nose, at least) the effort put into growing so much lush greenery is wasted as an inedible visual delicacy.

Our hours of suckering, gives me plenty of time to visit the important elements in my life. Time spent with plants and in the earth enable me to sort out the priorities. And as we end another successful Monday morning with plants whose fruit will be bountiful, I feel the same is reflected in my own life.

Happy suckering!

 

 

 

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Sea-Renenity

The regulator goes in your mouth and your heart races…deep breaths, you remind yourself, keep breathing…your heart rate slows again and you begin to submerge your head under-water. Then the panic starts, breathing quickens, heart races and you will yourself to breath, underwater. And the amazing thing is, you can.

Your first breath underwater and you feel so alive, your eyes adjust to the new refraction of light and you hear silence. You’ve entered another world, a world reserved for the few willing to bow their head beneath the air we need to breath, willing to sink themselves meters down to see through a whole new medium, and willing to suit up as if you’re ready to move in space. Welcome to scuba diving.

This is my work, for now and my job entails at least one daily visit to the underwater world! As you swim around the crystal blues waters of the Mediterranean your mind goes a million ways. Excitement draws you towards the deep canyons in the ocean floor, while caution keeps your breathing slowly and near your partner. The millions of small moving life forms at the bottom catch your eye as you grab a perfectly whole spiral shell, whose inhabitant just moved out. “Shell for rent”, you think and pass the shell to your buddy, hoping he understands the laughter behind your goggled eyes. Colorful fish rush before your eyes, curious as to this odd new ocean dweller, but welcoming, nonetheless.

You toss an “okay” sign your partner and motion onwards towards deeper water. Remembering your checks. Equalize. Breath. Be in awe. Check, Check, and check.
The dive rounds bends into a canyon, over meadows on the ocean floor and around rocks that climb into the open air!

You’re thoughts under this much pressure become more vivid, you remember your training in case of emergency, eyes darting from the incredible world around you to your partner, balancing between awe and caution. But as you glide through this world, weightless, you began to feel free, you know you’re both safe and you begin to spin, float, drift and dive, feeling the water hug you as you move, using your breath to move up or down in the water, and all of the suddenly you look up. Light shines through the water, as if heaven has opened up beneath the waves. Streams of lights shoot towards you in soft, wavering lines, the water sparkles as the photons move through the eagerly drifting water molecules. The world around you is perfectly illuminated by the afternoon Aegean sun, offering it’s own simple searenity like nowhere else.