As many of you know, I have grown up in a family of keen gardeners. My grandmother (Mama) raised a garden her entire life, and one of her biggest gardens was when she was over 90 years old! My brother is a master gardener (and quite a “canner”) and my sister is often working in her garden on Bainbridge Island. Part of this family tradition has included the passing down of tomato seeds across generations, and specifically passing along seeds from a tomato that Mama grew for decades in her garden in West Virginia.
Every year I take the seeds form a healthy tomato and let them dry in a dark/dry pace over the fall and early winter. In January I typically start those seeds inside and after a week or so the first seedlings start to appear… well those seedlings pictured above are Mama’s tomato seedlings that sprouted this past weekend.
It’s an amazing piece of family history to think that Mama was raising these same tomatoes, keeping the seeds and starting them anew each spring decades and decades ago. While the story of this tomato’s origin is filled with family lore (and certainly embellishment), there is no doubt that my grandmother was raising these same tomatoes more than 50 years ago!
While I have kept this tradition alive personally for over 20 years, this January it all felt a bit different. We have been in “covid mode” since mid March of last year. So many things have been pushed off to another time, another year…. so much of life has been put on hold. With the millions of positive cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths tied to Covid here in our country, I am actually VERY grateful to have a life where we can put things on hold for a bit. Yet this year as I pulled out the seeds from last summer and started preparing the seed trays, I became excited about the fact that I was TAKING ACTION on something for the future. The garden was not going to be on hold…. Mama’s tomatoes are not going to be on hold…. summer will come and we will enjoy delicious fresh vegetables from the garden AND save some of those seeds for the future. The cycle of seasons will hold and winter will go into spring and into the summer. Never has that felt more vital and important!
In this dark and cold winter, faced by so many challenges, I hope that you can find something, maybe as small as a tomato seed, to take action on that will allow you to focus on and have an impact on for the future. Yes there are dangerous days ahead and our need to continue to practice our covid safety protocols (mask wearing/social distancing/hand washing/etc.) has never been more important. Its in that context that I share this story; the positive energy and the small “light” of hope that those seedlings are bringing to me this year are helping me see a brighter summer for all of us.