Tomato as perennial, and other mysteries

Mid December, and not much rain. I’ve been looking around the garden, and thinking things like should weed and time to prune, but then the sun goes on shining and I lounge instead.

Maybe that’s the theme for this week’s Six on Saturday garden report: plants doing their own thing, with cheerful disregard for expectations. In that spirit, here are my Six:

The Chadwick cherry tomatoes I planted back in March are still going – in fact, I ate tomatoes on my hamburger two nights ago courtesy of this plant. I know tomatoes are supposed to die off in winter, but the Chadwick was the earliest starting, latest continuing, sturdiest, and most productive of all the varieties I tried this year. I’m pretty tempted to see if it wants to over-winter and produce next spring.

The alyssum under the roses is taking off in a lovely way. I’m hoping it keeps going, and out-competes the bindweed.

Speaking of roses, I just love this color.

And returning to the vegetable garden, this broccoli is a monster, in a good way. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the plant is almost three feet tall. I ate one entire plant of it (a smaller one) a couple of weeks ago, after a gopher severed the roots, but recently there have been no new gopher holes in the vegetable beds, and thus far this plant and the ones next to it are still standing (thank you local cat, fierce and mighty gopher-hunter). I’m looking forward to the flowering broccoli head growing bigger, and meanwhile snacking on a few leaves every so often.

Recent harvest bounty included green tomatoes (yes, Chadwicks); cilantro and parsley, which I can now tell apart by looking at the leaves – a personal victory; carrots; and a few first peas.

And finally, like so many of us, I’m looking forward to the new year, literal and metaphorical alike. I planted some flower seeds. Pink and buttercream poppies, please sprout!

(I’m also realizing this might be one of my more cheerful-sounding posts recently. Happy holidays, everybody! There’s nothing like a change of pace, even if this year it’s a shift in mindset as much as anything else.)

And with that, that’s all for my six this week! Head over to the Propagator’s blog for more gardening Sixes, and glimpses into what other gardeners are gardening, near and far.

Once upon a time in Austria

Once upon a time in Austria, on vacation, in Salzburg, I went to a classical music concert – Mozart, I think. This was in winter, just a week or so before Christmas. Snow dusted the tree branches overhead and the edges of railings beside and the puddles of frozen winter grass I walked past. Golden light spilled out of windows.

The concert took place in a pink marble room where the notes sparkled off the polished surfaces and the ceiling and the chandeliers soared far overhead and the concert-goers in stiff side chairs sat neatly arrayed in rows, listening. It was a chamber music concert, just four musicians. It was wonderful, like a window into another room, like a moment taken from a fairytale.

But the part that stays with me, as a surprise, years later, is this: that because it was winter, all of us concert-goers arrived wearing substantial, voluminous coats. And whereas in the United States, or the United Kingdom, or most other places I have been, we would all have waited in a coat-check line to hand our coats to a clerk in exchange for a tag or a token which we would then re-exchange for our coat again later, after the concert, after standing again in a line – in Austria there were simply large and substantial coat racks set up in the lobby, unattended. The racks gleamed with chrome and coat hangers. And we concert-goers, as we entered, simply hung up our coats on the hangers on the racks, and went in to the concert. Afterwards, on our way out, we returned to the lobby and retrieved our coats. No standing in line, no tags or tokens. No awkward uncertainty about whether or how much to tip the coat-check person.

And, as far as I know, no missing coats.

It was a wonderful experience.

Get Your Sh*t Together: A (Very Rambling) Book Review

Warning: there is benign & perhaps humorous swearing in this post. Also, this post is not about gardening.

Sometime after the Marie Kondo craze began and everyone started eyeing their socks and asking if those socks sparked joy, I encountered Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck. I read it. I thought it was hilarious, and also incredibly on-target. It wasn’t so much making fun of Kondo’s book, as turning it into a metaphor for gently, thoughtfully, and with much profanity letting go of the elements of one’s life about which one did not, in all sincerity, give a f*ck. I considered which of my friends should receive this book as a present. I tried to read bits of it aloud to my husband, but was hampered in this by laughing too hard to speak coherently.

This brings us to 2020. 2020 has been a year when it seems impossible not to give, to borrow a phrase, way too many f*cks. 2020 has been a year that vastly overspent far too many people’s f*ck budget, including mine. Early December, and I at least cannot remember the last time I felt this exhausted.

A couple of weeks ago, I was eyeing my bookcase, looking for something suitably lightweight. Did I have any humorous graphic novels I hadn’t read? No – but I did have Knight’s second book, Get Your Sh*t Together, and it caught my eye. I took it off the shelf. I read it mostly sitting in the backyard under a tree, moving the chair around as needed to catch the sun. And once again, I kept trying to read bits of it to my husband, but found myself laughing too hard to be able to get all the way through a sentence.

Partly Knight’s writing is just funny. Partly she’s about my age, and so her jokes referencing cultural miscellanea from earlier decades just make sense to me (also the one about remodeling a house, which ends with: “buy a throw pillow. Throw it at your contractor.”). And partly –

Partly she’s right.

I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired. But the stupid thing is, I’m tired based on dilemmas and problems of my own d*mn making. Is my to-do list too long? Fine. I am a grown-up. Either I can make a plan to do the things on the list, or I can decide they don’t need doing. Use a must-do list for the things that have to be done today. Do just those things, and then move the f*ck on.

The profanity helps.

All of this is a long way of saying: the book is funny. If you’re in your early forties and you share at least some of the author’s cultural context, it might be extra funny – but I suspect it’s funny either way.

On top of that – and this is the part I hadn’t quite expected, but I live in hope and in this case it actually paid off – the book is also useful. I found myself staring at my to-do list earlier today, muttering “strategize, focus, commit.” Then I made a list of things to do, and then I did them.

And then I was done, and I stopped working for the day, and went and ate an ice cream bar.

Also known as, and for the last phrase-borrowing of this post, winning.

I recommend the book.