The Last Days of Summer
We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. 1 Chronicles 29:15 (NLT)
“You didn’t bring tomatoes with you, did you?” my sister asks as I walk in the door. Four days out of town is too long to leave my vegetables and fruit waiting for our return so I usually arrive with my cooler in tow.
"Yes. I not only brought tomatoes from the house, but we also stopped at a farmer's market along the way and bought more." Since my uncle Robert died, the summer is spent in search of the delicious tomatoes that once were plentiful in his garden. Used to, on my arrival in Greenville, my mother would say, "We need to run up to Robert's and get some tomatoes and squash…I’ve been wantin’ squash lately.”
But this summer, my sister’s reply is “Oh, no. I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with. My vines are producing like crazy.” Her yellow Formica kitchen counter is lined with golden-yellow tomatoes and wrinkled heirloom tomatoes smeared with dark green. There’s a bowl of cherry tomatoes, in spite of the industrious chipmunk who steals the smallest yellow ones and leaves them half-eaten outside his hole on the other side of the fence.
Tomatoes. More than anything else, tomatoes are the essence of summer. We make a tomato pie. We make a gallon of gazpacho with cucumbers and onions, peppers and garlic. Too much garlic. We layer tomatoes with basil and mozzarella and olive oil and that is our supper as we watch the orb-weaver drop and climb, spinning her web that reaches from the edge of the pool house tin roof to the dogwood 30 feet away, anchored at the bottom by the top right leaf of the basil plant that is spilling over its pot.
These are the things of summer. It is a season of cool mornings, hot days, warm evenings.
The hummingbird circles the trumpet vine over the porch swing pausing at one orange bloom and then another before disappearing. The crows chase the hawk. The teenage squirrels chase each other around and around the white oaks that spread their branches overhead. And a breeze blows through their leaves.
My sister holds her ancient dog in her lap and brushes her. It may be the last time. Her grave, deep and square, has already been dug in the lower lot, close to where my dog Lucky was buried one cold October night 50 years ago.
It is August and we hold tightly to all these temporary things. The sun climbs higher in the sky shooting its light into my eyes and onto my page on this almost quiet Sunday morning. Soon the yellow school buses will take over the streets and summer will be gone.
New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.