I sat down to come here, to tell you about the overgrowth of tomatoes and the much needed rain and to describe the way Nora smashes the cherry tomatoes in half and then stuffs them against her two lone teeth. But then I started reading about motherhood in Kenya and why our future depends on libraries and frankly I was in such a deep state of relaxation that I got distracted and am almost out of time. 

So I will say it quickly: tomatoes. They're here, in full force. We planted six plants, all courtesy of my friend and Tomato Graft-Master Joe, and they're doing quite well. But the real miracle is the sixty odd volunteers, the ones who grew from the compost we spread somewhat accidentally when we moved the pile this spring. A bobcat came over, to move the shed from the middle of our lawn to the back edge, and in the process it became clear that the compost pile needed to move too. And so the bobcat moved that, and a lot spilled out, and the move must have happened on the exact right day of the year, because a few weeks later we noticed that there was a forest of tomato and squash and corn plants springing up from the area where it had been. Being lazy gardeners and overwhelmed parents, we decided to see what would happen, and so far what has happened has been nothing short of wonderful. To date we have harvested three perfect pumpkins, one red kabucha squash, and ten or fifteen pounds of tomatoes. There are two ears of corn on the way, dozens more pounds of tomatoes, and several tromboncino type squashes. I am never planting the traditional way again.

In the meantime, I have to keep up with the harvest. Nora takes care of the cherry tomatoes pretty handily, with help from Sally, but for the big ones I'm thinking puttanesca. Apparently, we're all doing it wrong, but I aim to do it right, with L.V. Anderson's recipe as a guide. Alex has some bluefish we caught and froze the other day that he wants to cook up, and he promised that if I make the sauce, he'll come home tonight, add the fish, and simmer it off. With any luck by the time I finish dinner service and get home from the restaurant the pasta will be boiled, the sauce will be hot, and we will sit down to our first slow-cooked meal in a while. I'll let you know.


AUGUST 4 // elspeth

It is perfect here right now. I watch the people on their vacations: reading in a beach chair in the shade; eating together the first night out as a family; grown adults chicken fighting in the pond. It is playful, lovely, languid. I can almost imagine the town from their eyes.

We are living a different kind of summer, the kind that comes with long days but good rewards. Skinny dipping under a full moon after ten hot, sticky hours in the restaurant. A day off catching bluefish and floating around the bay on a blow-up dingy and a boogy board. A garden out of control, offering up a volunteer harvest picked in snatches before breakfast, after work. Piles of laundry in need of folding, dog hair wafting down the stairs, tomato seeds ground into the rug. Girls who need extra attention in the time we have—mama in the morning, daddy before bed. Cutting fish, taking orders, moving tables. Food, beer, bed.

And yet already I am worried the summer is running out, that the Sundays are numbered before the cold weather begins. The tomatoes have just started and I can see them going the way of the strawberries, the sugar snaps. Recently I've been daydreaming about a way to keep it going, about a warm-weather vacation after all this ends. Could we go somewhere then? Early November, after the restaurant closes, the markets slow down? Dauphin Island looks nice. South Carolina, maybe, somewhere outside of Charleston. Sullivan's? I want an extra week of warm days, of naps and walks and reading in a bikini in the sand. I want my girls to know warm weather leisure, the way I did as a kid.

Soon enough, they'll be old enough to go to camp—Northway, in Algonquin, days spent canoe tripping and reading on the dock the way my sister and I did. The two of us joke that we'll go back as kitchen staff for a summer—cook over the woodstove again, torture our girls as the moms who just can't give up camp. And maybe that's part of it, this holding on. My baby's going to walk soon, my three year old is almost four, and I'm not sure I'm ready for this part to end.

But there's nothing I can do to slow it down, nothing I can do to tread water, to make this part extend. So the point, I guess, is this: This time right now is perfect, and I want to savor it. No matter how hot, how busy, how tired, I'm not sure it gets any better than this. There are peaches and blueberries and tomatoes, pond swims and beach days and these two sweet girls. And so every day, no matter what else happens, I want to enjoy it. Every single minute, because who knows if it will ever feel just like this again.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.