Vital Connections

DSC03900The last of my tomatoes is gone, and I didn’t get to eat any of them.  I absolutely love the taste of home-grown tomatoes, so over the past several years I’ve made several attempts to grow them myself.  Sadly, all that work and effort produced only one bumper crop of cherry tomatoes.  I was happy and proud, but it only happened once.  Some years I grew enormous tomato plants that didn’t actually produce tomatoes, other years my plants were infected with “white flies” which meant the tomatoes never ripened, and one year something ate my entire tomato plant.  All that was left was a sad little gnawed-off stump.

Hope springs eternal, so this Spring when I saw a healthy little plant that was labeled as an “early producer,” I thought I would give it a try.  I was heartened to see five tomatoes growing shortly after I planted it, and since there was no sign of the dreaded white flies, I thought this was going to be my year, tomato-wise.  But then the tomatoes began disappearing, one by one.  I asked my husband to surround the plant with a protective barrier.  That worked for three days, but this morning, all that was left of my tomato crop was a single tomato with a huge bite taken out of it.  I know when I’m beat, so I left it on the ground so some critter could finish its meal.

I think the time has come for me to admit that growing my own tomatoes is not in my skill set.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy home-grown tomatoes, it just means I have to eat tomatoes that other people have grown.  For now, I buy them at the local farmer’s market.  Later this Summer, my friends and family who can successfully grow tomatoes will most likely share their extras with me.  And I’ve decided that I’m okay with that.

The truth is, sometimes we have to rely on other people.  When the shower head in our main bathroom started dripping, my husband and I made several attempts to fix it ourselves, but finally gave up and called a plumber.  The plumber fixed it in less than an hour.  When my dog managed to snag my necklace and I heard a loud “twang,” I thought it was broken.  It wasn’t, but the chain was suddenly several inches longer.  I couldn’t figure out how a sterling silver chain suddenly lengthened, but a friend took one look at it and told me that the chain had “sprung,” which did indeed make it longer.  Sometimes other people know the answers that elude us.

I am, by nature, a somewhat independent person and I don’t apologize for that.  But I also know just how connected I am to other people, and how much we all rely on each other to get through our day-to-day lives.  And I hope I can always remember just how much I need others, even those people who don’t think, vote, believe, or look just like I do.  Because when I can remember how connected we all truly are, it’s a whole lot easier to treat others the way I want them to treat me.  And that results in a better world for everyone…..

78 thoughts on “Vital Connections

  1. My tomatoes are still doing well, but I did lose one plant and some others have leaf issues. Still I persevere, knowing that while I may get delicious tomatoes, They will not be cheaper than what I can buy in the store. As to independent but connected, I am with you. It is always good to have a like minded individual nearby to call on for help, but sometimes the ones who think differently can surprise you. Stay well Ann. ALlan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Allan! A friend told me that if I spray the plant with water mixed with peppermint oil, that will keep the critters away. It’s early in the summer, so I may try it. But right now, I don’t have any new tomatoes growing because the yellow flowers are drying up and falling off. I looked it up, and it said that happens when it’s too hot, so we’ll see! And I agree that those who seem very different from us can still be sources of help and wisdom, if we just give them a chance.

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  2. I love this post Ann! You are so right in that we are all connected and need to rely on each other for talents and skills that they have that we lack… Have you considered container gardening? We had a very voracious groundhog that was eating all the plants (including the tomatoes). Sparky decided to plant the tomatoes in larger pots and place them on top the picnic table. He would take them in in the evening and put them back out in the morning… we got a decent harvest of cherry tomatoes and didn’t lose any to the varmints!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a great idea! Actually, the tomato plant this year is in a pot, but I never thought about moving it. We could easily put it in the garage and night and bring it out again in the morning!

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  3. We get by with a little help from our friends!

    My mother used to grow tomatoes when I was young, in a house where we had a “conservatory” (really just a lean-to shack) and she was very successful. So John and I tried it in our first apartment for a couple of years – on the window sill! We got a huge crop, but the plants kept all the light out, then they fell over onto the floor and we had to put strings across the window to keep them upright. After that we sensibly gave up.

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  4. YES! I was listening to something and that person suggested we add the words “just like me” at the end whenever we aim to judge someone. It’s supposed to be a reminder that we’re all connected and not to judge 😉

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  5. We had four volunteer tomato plants this year and they all produced well (what type of tomato, I have no idea). If you lived close by I would have been happy to share. Now that my plants are slowing down, I’ll be visiting the farmers markets too. My husband and I are big do-it-yourselfers but we too are realizing there are limits. Plus, paying someone else to do what they are experts at frees us up to do what we want… have fun!

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    • You’re right! We mowed our own lawn for years, but it really bothered my husband’s allergies. So now we have a lawn service, and everyone is happy. Do-it-yourself is sometimes the way to go, but other times, let the professionals do it!

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  6. Father firmly believed that DIY stood for Don’t Involve Yourself and the answer to every domestic problem was ‘get a man in.’.
    I was soon cured of that on meeting up with the artisan francais, most of whom you wouldn’t trust to tighten a screw properly, and as husband was very handy learned a lot about plumbng and painting and was pleased not to need help. But when he became steadily more ill I threw the pride aside and if I needed help I called for it among family, friends and neighbours. Most people are pretty decent if you give them a chance to show it.
    But I still would not call on the artisan francais….

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    • Yes, I’m a firm believe that we each have different gifts, and an essential part of relying on others is knowing exactly “which” other you’re going to rely on for a particular chore! I’m glad you were able to ask for help when your husband could no longer take care of things himself, and I completely agree that most people are decent if just given a chance to show it. Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Sorry your tomatoes didn’t make it to your salad bowl again this year, Ann. There really is no comparison between home-grown and store-bought tomatoes. Glad you can still get your fix at the Farmer’s market. It really does take all types of people with varying skill sets and experiences to make the world go round. Better luck next year with your tomato plants. Maybe you can find somebody to build you a greenhouse?

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    • I think a greenhouse would be perfect! But until then, I’m thankful for the Farmer’s Market that is close to my home. Because you’re right, the tomatoes bought at the grocery store don’t even come close in taste and quality. I think they’re picked while they’re still green, and then ripen in the store. But for whatever reason, the ones straight from the plants taste best. Thanks for you comment!

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  8. You have an excellent approach to life, Ann. The closing sentences show this: “Because when I can remember how connected we all truly are, it’s a whole lot easier to treat others the way I want them to treat me. And that results in a better world for everyone….. “

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  9. I can totally understand the tomato growing dilemma. I never seem to get tomatoes from the plants I grow. I have resolved they aren’t my sort of plants. Better to leave them for others.
    As for the last statement in your blog, it would be best for all humans in the planet to start working together instead of against each other. I remain hopeful yet realistic in my hope.

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    • I like the way you put that….”hopeful yet realistic.” And it’s so true, the world would be a much better place if we all worked together rather than against each other, and it’s also true that will never completely happen. But I feel if we can just improve in that department, and each of us do our part to stop viewing and treating others as the enemy, it would be a huge help!

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  10. I like how you ruminate at length about unsavoury outcomes and hash out sanguine life lessons. As humans, we are deeply interdependent creatures no matter how much of a Lone Ranger one tends to be, and acknowledging that is key to lasting happiness. The mystery of the disappearing tomatoes has left me stumped though. Was it some squirrel, or a rabbit?

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    • Yes, independence only goes so far, doesn’t it? Ultimately, we really are all in this together, no matter how much we fight that concept. As for the tomato plant, I think it must have been a squirrel. It was something small with big teeth, from the looks of the bite I saw taken out of the last tomato. And although I couldn’t get the photo of it to upload to my computer, my husband had surrounded the plant with a tall mesh that a rabbit couldn’t climb or get into. A squirrel, on the other hand, probably just climbed right over it!

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  11. I love the way you weave your every day life into such deeper messages Ann. It’s all so very true what you say about connectedness and how we rely on each other. That’s the way the world works. And, for the record, my tomato growing skills aren’t particularly brilliant either! But I still love eating them!

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    • I really wish I were better at it, because there is something so nice about simply walking into our own yards and picking our own tomatoes when we want to eat them. But for people like you and me, sometimes the best we can do is rely on the farmer’s markets and the generosity of our gardening friends. And thanks for the sweet comment. I don’t really set out to write a message, but it seems that whatever I’m thinking about at the moment comes out when I start to write a post. And lately I’ve been unhappy about how terribly divided we have become, and how we’ve lost sight of the fact that we really do need each other…even those we don’t always understand.

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    • Thank you so much!!! And BTW, I tried to like and comment on your most recent post, but Word Press is acting up and wouldn’t let me. I did want to say how much I appreciated your courage and honesty, and that I was praying for you!

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  12. This was such a nice thing to read, Ann. I totally agree that some skills are just beyond us. We will have to make peace with that (like I have to make peace with the fact that out of 10 plants I plant, I successfully kill 8). The good thing is you tried several times. Someday, another little pot of something with another beguiling label might entice you to try again, who knows, for we are a people of hope 🙂
    My other takeaway from this delightful post is that everyone has something to offer someone. That’s something I need to remember the next time I’m driven to write someone off!

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    • That’s what I try to remember, too. Even those that we can’t see the good in right away can often offer us something of value, if we just give them a chance. When I was young I was far too quick to judge and right someone off, and the older I get, the more I realize just why I shouldn’t do that. It’s far better to look for the common ground that to be put off by the differences, and when we can do that, we all benefit. Thanks for your comment!

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    • You know, my neighbor plants tomatoes every year, and every year I see red, ripe tomatoes on her plants! Why the critters and white flies go after mine and leave hers alone, I’ll never know. The good news is she often shares some of her harvest!

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  13. You are so right! We do have to rely on one another. The beautiful thing about that is we get to enjoy each other’s gifts in a marvelous way. I think God intended us to be like the branches of a tree. We all ‘fill out’ the tree nicely and in our own way. Each branch is somewhat different, but all the branches belong. With God’s help, we each stretch our branches heavenward, reaching to do our best. We do not have to be experts at all things, nor is there any real joy in that. We each find our own joy and we share that joy with others.

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    • I really like that image, Linda! Branches on the tree….all of us a little bit different, but all of us doing our part to fill out the tree and support each other. I think one of the best things about faith is it does teach us to see how connected we are, and to look for the good in each other. Thank you for that reminder, and for putting it so eloquently!

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  14. Great post. Gardening is always a challenge, because you’re never really in control! I read a book once called The $64. Tomato, cause by the time the gardener/author was done with his garden in the summer, he figured after everything he had to spend money on, each tomato actually was worth $64.!!!!

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    • I think there’s a lot of truth in that! If I had to pay someone to tend to my garden, and then added in the cost of the plants, the soil, the sprays, etc, I bet I’d be much happier to simply hand my money over at the Farmer’s Market…..

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  15. It is true now more than ever that we need to try to find connections with people even if they don’t see things the same way we do. Usually we can find something in common which makes for a better world. That is a bummer about your tomatoes. My uncle has a huge garden, so his wife ends up spending hours helping him with it. Last summer she said to my husband “you know you can buy this stuff at the store”. haha. I have about 8 beets and maybe 10 carrots coming up in my meager garden, plus a bunch of green beans. And some tomato plants. I see 1 actual tomato coming so far, but we’ll see what happens. Our season must be later than yours, but otherwise we have the same problems. My uncle with the garden has bees. A couple of days ago one of the bee boxes was knocked over, broken apart with the parts scattered around and with honey licked off. They are up off the ground and heavy, so he thinks it was a bear!!

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    • I bet it was a bear, and that’s a bit scary! Our growing season started early this year, as May was warm and June was dry and hot. With a bit of water, things should have been growing well, but I hadn’t counted on the critters deciding it was time to harvest. And yeah, my husband grew up on a “truck farm” and absolutely hated all the work that went into it. To this day, if I ask him to buy vegetables at the store, he’ll come home with a bunch of cans!

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    • Sometimes a specialist is a gift! I think it’s a good idea to try to fix what we can ourselves, but to also recognize our limitations and call in the experts when we need to! Thanks for the comment, Peter.

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  16. Acknowledging that we do rely on others is a great way to build community, too. Maybe that leads to seeing there are many paths to connection, more tolerance for diversity, and respect for minding one’s own business & leaving judgement up to God & nature?

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    • I think it can. We are SO quick to judge, and admonish, others these days….I see it all over social media, from both conservatives and progressives. Whatever happened to having respect for other opinions and being civil to other people? It is beyond depressing, especially because all it does is tear us apart as a society, and the reality is that we really are all in this together and that we need each other.
      PS: My dad was minister, and he always said one of his favorite Bible verses was, “Judgement is mine, says the Lord.” He said most people didn’t realize that meant that judgement is supposed to be left up to God, not us……

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  17. Ann, I admire your perseverance and feel for you with the loss of tomatoes yet again! I tried with potatoes for many years but each crop suffered and was inedible. I love how you reinforce our interconnectedness with each other, how this is such an enriching experience of life giving help and winning friends along the way. Care, love, kindness and consideration makes life so special! Wishing you a lovely weekend. x

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    • Thank you so much, Annika! I hope you’re feeling better and that your mother is doing well. And I truly believe that if we can remember how much we need each other, we’d be a lot less quick to lash out at each other. And that would benefit everyone…..

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  18. Amen, Ann! So much of gardening is out of our control — rains (not too much, not too little) at just the right time, sunlight, absence of critters and pests. I find it most frustrating to labor over something like a tomato plant, only to watch it die a slow (or speedy!) death. Thank Heaven for Farmer’s Markets, huh? And you’re so right about our inter-connectedness. Of course, that doesn’t excuse stupidity or rudeness, but perhaps we could cut one another a bit of slack … in the name of peace, now and then?!

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    • Yes, farmers and gardeners have to be willing to put a lot of work into something and then see zero results, on a regular basis. It is quite unsettling for most, but I suppose they are used to it. The farmers I knew growing up were mostly easy-going and optimistic, so perhaps it’s a mind set? And I’m all for cutting each other a bit of slack…not letting ourselves be bullied, of course, but also not being quite so quick to take offense. Because often, others aren’t trying to upset us at all, they’re just living their lives and doing what they honestly feel is the right thing, just like us!

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  19. If I had a spot, I might try tomatoes, but then again — the local farmers need someone to purchase their crop, and I’m more than happy to fill that slot. One of my customers always makes me laugh when he refers to himself as a ‘checkbook mechanic.’ He’s all thumbs, can barely remember ‘righty-tighty, lefty-loosey,’ and doesn’t apologize for it. He has his own skill set, and he knows better than to begin trying to fix something he’ll only make worse. The silliest slogan I’ve ever heard was popular a couple of decades ago, when feminists started saying, “You can do it all!” The truth is that none of us can, and accepting that’s an important part of growing up.

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    • Oh, I know! I hate telling children that “you can be and do whatever you want” too, because that simply isn’t true and creates unrealistic expectations. Rather, we should encourage children to always do their best and be willing to follow their dreams. That takes courage, and it also takes courage to admit that maybe a particular dream won’t come true. (I wanted to be a successful and famous author, and that didn’t happen. But I still write and that’s good enough, you know?) I really like the idea that those of us who are challenged in the garden are still doing our part by supporting Farmer’s markets and farmers in general. It’s true, and it makes me feel better!

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      • I just went out to ‘my farm’ today. The tomatoes are mostly gone, since rain caused them to split, but it was interesting to see so many blooms. The woman who runs the place said that they will bloom with rain, but they won’t set fruit until the temperatures are reliably below 90 degrees again. I did get some cherry varieties, though, so I’m happy!

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  20. Lovely post, Ann – I appreciate your honesty. I tried growing some tomatoes, too. Despite my devotion to watering them, I ended up with a few tiny tomatoes. They were squishy by the time they were red and not that tasty. Oh, well! You’re absolutely right – I was able to enjoy the homegrown ones given to me by a good friend. We all have gifts to share and that is truly what makes friendship great. I also believe in smiling. That always warms up the world around me. 🙂

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    • Exactly, Judy! Everyone has gifts worth sharing, but they are certainly not the same gifts. And all those different gifts are what keep society going, so that’s actually a good thing. By the way, I had the same problem one year with a tomato plant I had growing in a big pot. It was very hot and dry that summer, so I watered it like crazy. And my tomatoes were squishy and some had the skins split, and they were absolutely tasteless. My father-in-law told me that’s what happens when you water too much, but if I get the plant less water, it started wilting in the heat. Sometimes, you just can’t win!

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  21. Hmm. I’m tempted to tell you to surround your tomatoes with marigolds, but just because that works for me doesn’t mean it’ll help in your climate.

    But more to the point, God help us if everything breaks down and we forget that we all did this cooperative thing that we called a society for a reason. It’s way easier and it greatly improves our survival rates. There’s no way I can be good at everything. I’m not that smart.

    I think we can remember this sort of thing before it’s too late, but I remember a time when this was common. I don’t know if those who are younger and perhaps don’t remember other ways of doing things will adjust very easily.

    I hope so. For all our sakes, we need to rediscover how to get along. : )

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    • I know, Cathleen! It scares me that many young people haven’t really lived through a time where sacrificing for the common good was a reality, and where treating those you disagreed with in a civil manner was the norm. Or even when good manners were valued! But as you say, we created some rules for a reason, as it helps us all to get along with our individual lives. Hopefully, we can tone down the hateful rhetoric before it destroys us all.
      As for the tomatoes, I can try planting marigolds! Another friend told me that if I spray my plant with water mixed with peppermint oil the critters will eave it alone. If my plant starts sprouting tomatoes again, I’ll try that.

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  22. With the world in its current state, I feel that it’s more important than ever to communicate and be there for one another in whatever way we can. It’s such an important message. Thank you for sharing and enlarging on it, Ann. As for tomatoes, I tried to grow them this year (with help from a friend in planting them). We sat the pots on an old table in the back garden. They looked pretty healthy when they first started to grow, but before long, they shrivelled up and disappeared. I can only imagine something was eating them. Before my disability, I grew tomatoes, potatoes in pots, red and yellow peppers, courgettes and even rhubarb. I had no luck with carrots – I think they suffered from carrot fly, which was annoying. I managed to get one solitary two-inch-long carrot, not even enough to make a portion. Nowadays, I rely on the one farmer’s market in our city, or other than that, I’m afraid it’s Mr Tesco. They don’t taste anywhere near the same, though. Stay well, Ann x 🌞

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    • No, the produce from the supermarket just doesn’t taste nearly as good as what comes from a garden! But I’m impressed with all you were able to grow! You must have had a real “green thumb” like my mother-in-law. She could, and did, grow just about everything. And thanks for your comment and for “getting” what I was trying to say. I think we have reached the point where it’s absolutely crucial that we actually work at getting along. Because trying to shout each other down, silence those we disagree with, and in general acting out on every level sure isn’t helping anything…. It’s actually making a tough situation much, much worse. I hope we can get back to seeing the basic human goodness that is present, to some degree or another, in everyone!

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  23. Hi Ann – I never like to ask for help, to the point of being ridiculously stubborn, but you’re right, we do need each other and, although we sometimes have to call in a professional, I’ve learned that as friends and family members, we all have a need within us to help each other. So when I don’t let other people help, I push them away. As for tomatoes, I grew them once, but haven’t tried since. They were pretty good, but the local growers near me do a much better job!

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    • I have a good friend who has a hard time accepting help too. I think that’s just natural for some people, but sometimes we do need help, and I’m glad you recognize that. I’m independent too, but every now and then, I realize just how much I need other people!

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  24. My husband has a green thumb and was very good at growing tomatoes, but we stopped after one season as we never got a whole tomato. There was always bites taken out of them. I had wished I could reach an agreement with the creatures because we would have shared. As long as they would have eaten the WHOLE tomato and left some without bites in them. But they seemed to like to bite all of them. Sigh.

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    • I know! I wouldn’t have minded if the critters ate one, or even two, of my tomatoes. But they all disappeared, even though the last one was still on the vine with a bite taken out. A friend told me to spray the plant with water mixed with peppermint oil. I couldn’t find peppermint oil, but I’ve tried water with peppermint extract, and am spraying with that. Right now, I have nine new little green tomatoes growing. We’ll see if any of them make it to maturity to not, but I”m not holding my breath!

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