Should I begin with the tomatoes?  They are not quite the objects I had in mind, not usable like a typewriter or showerhead, and yet since I don’t eat them, they are objects to me. The tomatoes made me happy because I grew them and I’m not a good gardener.  (My friend Denise assisted because she grew them from seed in little cups inside her house, and then I transplanted them.)  I feel that I’m supposed to be a good gardener because people are, nowadays, growing not just tomatoes but beans and peas and melons and radishes and squash.  When provenance is an issue, your backyard is the best reply (it beats the farmer’s market for correctness, though it may tie with the CSA), and so gardening is part of being a good citizen/landowner/mother.  My youngest child felt intrigued by the idea of planting tomatoes for about ten minutes, by which point I’d assembled all the gloves, trowels and kneelers, and then he wandered off to make guns out of sticks.  It’s hard to believe that his favorite story is The Little Red Hen!  So I planted and weeded and propped up with wire cages.  I interspersed with marigolds because Denise told me to.  Next to the tomato-marigold bed I planted three rosebushes, because my grandfather always grew roses and tomatoes at his beach house, and I was thinking of him.  He did very specific things, as grandfathers tend to, like making the grandchildren peel all the shrimp for shrimp cocktail, and cooking beer-batter fish in his deep-fryer, and baking chocolate cake.  He often scrambled eggs for his English setter, and he liked to talk politics from the Russian Revolution onward.  Holding my tomatoes in my hands I honored him.  Honor is a stiff-sounding word but he fought in France in WWII, so remembering him puts me into a military frame of mind.  Plus, the climbing roses against the garage wall that persist despite my lack of skills had been planted by a former owner of our house, a Captain Trickey, also a veteran.  (Along with the red roses, he left a wooden plaque over the basement bar that reads, ‘The Captain’s Word is Law’). So, kneeling there in the dirt I had Captain Trickey and my grandfather both hovering behind me and fussing about how I wasn’t doing anything right.  White-haired, shaking their heads.  They couldn’t help me because they were both dead.  The new dog has dug trenches under the rosebushes and nearly killed them, and the tomato bed is gone to weeds, but hey, once, I grew tomatoes.  Some people feel that way about giving birth, like, hey, once is enough!

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