Friday, October 10, 2008

Survival of the Fittest


"It's the only one like this out there." A mottled hand reached over the fence, holding out a glowing yellow orb.

"I can't take that, Bob. It's your only one," I responded.

"Oh, it's an ugly one, alright," he continued, misunderstanding me. "But it'll taste good."

I looked into his blue eyes, through the chain link, and smiled. "Really? Bob? It's your only one. I'm sure it's delicious but really?"

He nodded, his ninety year old eyes crinkling under the battered sun hat. "There's none other like it out there." He gestured behind him, to the well tended vegetable patch at the back of his yard. It brimmed with eggplants, sprawling squash and watermelon vines, and stretching tomato plants.

I took his single, beautiful heirloom tomato in both hands and thanked him. He waved it away and began talking of his days at the farm bureau back in the 1930s. The conversation drifted to various watering techniques and then his favorite fruit trees. When we parted, I cradled Bob's gift in my hands.

There is something special in giving to your neighbors, sharing your bounty. But there is something spectacular, truly humbling in giving not your worst, not your leftovers or extras, but your best. Your only. That afternoon, my parents' elderly neighbor picked the very best from his yard. The only large tomato. And gave it to me - a neighbor's daughter he hardly knew.

I cradled his tomato. Rested it on the counter in my parents' kitchen and then hauled it home to my own kitchen, where it sat atop my fruit bowl, proudly, patiently, reminding me.

This has been a rough couple of weeks. The stock market plummeted. Nest eggs disappeared. Jobs were cut. Budgets were slashed. The bitter division over two Presidential candidates, two schools of political thought, persisted.

Yesterday, at the farmers' market, people frowned. The early autumn sun reached down and faint breezes buffeted. Still, someone barked at another for stepping in front of her. Another customer tossed Sapphira's cauliflower on the table after hearing its price. Horns honked. Elbows nudged.

It was not our finest hour. It has not been our finest year. Or decade.

But as I left Sapphira's stall, she placed her two biggest Sugar Pie pumpkins in my basket. "Please take them," she nodded. "I saved them for you. Your boys will love some pumpkin pie." She waved away my money and told me she'd see me next week.

Toting home my gift, I thought of Sapphira's saved pumpkins, Bob's best tomato.

In this month of lost savings and political division, I learned about what we truly need to survive. The very best of each other. The very best of ourselves.

23 comments:

Kim said...

:-D

Not much else to be said after that...

ruchi aka arduous said...

Aw, GB, I love you. People give their best to you, because you give the best of yourself.

knutty knitter said...

Isn't there something about sewing and reaping?

You obviously do really good sewing in real space as well as cyberspace :)

Just so you know, I ALWAYS read your blog when I'm online.

viv, the appreciative, in nz

Heather @ SGF said...

Great post! Thanks for the reminder. I'm inspired :)

amanda said...

sweet...

MamaBird said...

That's lovely. Your gift is not just in your writing but in how you see things. Thanks for this post.

Lisa Sharp said...

Thanks for the post, what a wonderful story! If we would all live like that this wouldn't be a crisis at all.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful!

Lori said...

Thank you for the reminder of the simple beauty of acting selflessly and compassionately in these uncertain times.

Cat said...

After reading this I almost cried. I have been crying all week at what has been going on around me. Thank you for helping me see past the bad and to remember to focus on the good.

Joyce said...

Sapphira acted in the opposite spirit of greed. Good for her!

GreenOfficeBlog said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post. You really capture the essence of the green movement in this piece, which is the general feeling of community and camaraderie. I think a lot of people feel like too much has been lost as a result of industrialization, and by going green, we're going back to our roots. Thanks for the great reminder.

Mara said...

Beautiful piece -- well written and moving. Thanks for the nice way to start my weekend!

Theresa said...

Thank you so much for this post. What a beautiful tribute to all good things :) When we are connected instead of disconnected, good things happen.

Melinda said...

Lovely post, GB.

Stephanie said...

What a story.

Domestic Accident said...

You speak the truth.

kale for sale said...

Thank you for passing the goodwill on even further.

Rhonda Jean said...

That's a beautiful post. And thank you for letting us know about your wonderful neighbours. It makes the world better to know of the generosity of others.

Chile said...

The folks at my farmers market were great this morning. Plenty of smiles, patience, samples from generous vendors, friendly dogs, and even helpful folks from the area we hope to move to. Perhaps the beautiful weather we had put people in a better temperment?

Hooray for kind people!

CindyW said...

That is not an ugly tomato. In fact there are no ugly heirloom tomatoes. They are all lovely and tasty.

Oh the 90 year old neighbor of your parents'. He is lovely too.

Thanks for the touching story! We all need some in our spiraling downward economy and never ending war(s).

Anonymous said...

Lovely- will you save some of the seed?

Ottawa Gardener said...

Here here. The surplus and the deficit inherent in gardening brings on the generous spirit in many a gardener and for that I am thankful. What beautiful gifts!

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