We had so much wild, dead, ugly stuff to cut down that I had to go out and buy more of those big paper bags that are supposed to be kind to landfills.
At first, I didn’t find any bags. This was winter, with cold, brutal winds blowing big, spinning mini-tornadoes of leaves that had once looked so bright and colorful on tress. Most of what remained planted around our house had to be pruned, trimmed or pulled out before the snow came.
The largest single thing we had to take down were the tomato plants. What had started as seeds in raised beds had become a fragrant, tangled, snarled green wall at least two feet taller than I was. I watched my wife disappear behind it, the pruning shears going snick, snick, snick.
And then we discovered that what we thought was a mass of useless warm weather vegetation, was still bearing fruit. Nestled among the leads were long strands of tomatoes, most of them green, but round and ripe enough to pluck away.
As I took off one strand, and then another, I remembered a warning I had heard while watching a gardening show on TV: when harvesting, bring a bucket or a basket, because your hands will be full before you know it.
Our buckets had been put away for the winter. I found a small container. Within a minute, my wife and I filled it with bright green fruit. I emptied it on a small table top that was soon covered with several hundred under ripe tomatoes.
I wished I hadn’t put those buckets away. We used our hands to carry the tomatoes in. Then we put them in a cool, dark place to ripen. Would they taste as good as summer or autumn tomatoes?
I had to smile at how summer’s gift became winter’s bounty, not just in tomatoes, but in two important truths:
Whatever appears old, overgrown, or to have outlived its purpose, may hide surprisest may have some surprises and
Don’t be so quick to pack away your buckets. You never know when you’ll need something big to bring good things home.