Subject matter for my floral artwork has been growing abundantly in our Coronado back yard since we moved in in 1967 after relocating from NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, where Dad was stationed as a Naval aviator before being transferred to North Island, from one “island” to another as it turns out. Dad’s the one with the green thumb, so adept at working the soil, filling the back forty with flowers, fruits, and vegetables, not just from thyme to thyme, but as the consummate, constant gardener, to borrow from the title of a fine film, “The Constant Gardener” (2005). In other words, Dad keeps busy!
Dad comes by his talent for tilling (and harvesting) honestly, inheriting the mindset of a farmer from his folks, who many moons ago grew onions on their forty-acre farm in Pine Island, New York, located upstate just over the hills from New York City in the famous Black Dirt region of Orange County, named for the Dutch, not the citrus, by the way. During harvest time, the family would take their (ahem) hand-picked crop to market in New York City at zero-dark-thirty each morning to sell their pungent wares. Then it was back to the onion fields where another long day of backbreaking, stoop labor awaited. My grandfather, Ed, Sr. (we called him “Dziadek”), had his hands full with the farm back in the 1940s, not to mention the happy chore of dealing with three rambunctious sons who also worked with him in the fields. Old snapshots show the lads and their dad picking onions alongside one another, knee-deep in drudgery! Babci (grandma) and Dziadek did well for themselves, raising a fine family.
Dad’s hometown hamlet of Pine Island, New York, is not an actual island, (sound familiar?), but was once a swamp which because of its slightly higher elevation above the surrounding area would become an “island” when the nearby Wallkill River would flood, leaving Pine Island high and dry. In the 1830s, Polish settlers reclaimed the wetlands and rerouted the river, resulting in a region of soil which is literally black, and very, very fertile, to this day ideal for growing onions as well as other bounties from Mother Nature’s considerable cornucopia.
But I digress. Lettuce get back to Dad’s back forty here in ‘Nado.
There’s nothing quite like the way fresh, vine-ripened, homegrown, back-yard tomatoes taste compared to the store-bought fruit found in your friendly grocer’s produce section.
And yes, tomatoes are fruit. Suffice it to say, bumper crops from victory gardens simply can’t be beat. Not too tart. Not too sweet. Just right, eh Goldilocks? Right-ee-o, Felix!