I am two generations removed from true dependence on the family garden for food. Just close enough to remember picking an armful of vegetables and fruit from the garden, yet far enough away that my own garden consists of a single tomato plant growing from a bag of garden soil in the back yard.
We had a little garden in the front yard of my childhood home. I remember watching sprouts turn to plants and blooms turn to vegetables. I stooped low to pull yellow squash from the dirt. Picking green beans always led to more work; we would have to snap them later. I still feel the prickles of the okra plant irritating my arms as I traveled the rows to cut vegetable from the tall stalks.
I didn’t like to pick the squash much. Even breaded and fried, it wasn’t my favorite. The green beans didn’t really thrill me either. I’ve already discussed the discomfort of okra. But, the Tommy Toes! I didn’t even have to be asked.
Tommy Toes were my absolute favorite food to harvest. These tiny tomatoes grew in clusters within a supporting wire cage. Often, in the middle of playing with Matchbox cars or Barbie dolls in the yard, I would run to the garden to see if I could find any ripe Tommy Toes. They went straight into my mouth. As soon as the crisp skin broke between my teeth, the juice, warmed by the sun, landed on my tongue with a rush. Ah, the taste of fruit straight from the vine!