Happy First Day of July, my friend!
Every summer I plant a small vegetable garden. Some years I go all out and plant a variety of herbs, vegetables and a row of strawberries. Other years I simply plant some lettuce and a couple tomato plants. Last summer, I did not plant anything. Life was too heavy.
In the winter, the soil in my yard is dense mud and in the summer, it’s dry clay. I’m sometimes in awe that anything at all grows in my yard. Because of this, I plant my vegetable garden in two raised beds filled with nutritious soil that my veggies love. Last year, in early summer, I pulled some weeds that had made their way into my vacant vegetable garden but after that, the beds of rich soil sat bare.
About halfway through summer, I was out on my deck and happened to glance down at my beds. I noticed that something was growing in one of them. Upon taking a closer look, I discovered that a handful of tomato plants were sprouting. I was quite elated because if I could choose to plant only one item each summer it would be tomatoes. However, once the initial excitement wore off, I looked at those bitty plants and said, “Well, good luck to you because I don’t have the energy to baby you or to water you.”
Without any staking or watering or TLC, those tomato plants thrived. They grew all over themselves and down the sides of my raised bed. About midway through August when the summer heat was at its peak and the rogue tomato plants were starting to put out green globes, I finally kicked in with some watering. But nothing fancy. No drip system or timed waterings — just a showering from the deck above whenever I felt like it.
A month or so later, I was harvesting lovely sweet cherry tomatoes from those determined tomato plants. So many cherry tomatoes that I had to find ways to consume large quantities of them and finally took to roasting my unexpected bumper crop with garlic and spooning that light sauce over fresh pasta.
Every once in awhile, someone will say to me, “Carrie, you are so lucky that you know what you want to do in your life. I want to do something more with mine but I don’t know what that is. I don’t even know where to begin.”
First of all, let me say, that I definitely don’t have my life all figured out. I’m making stuff up as I go along. However, I do know for certain that while you may not know what you want out of life, or you may have an idea but you’re not sure how to make it happen, you have to at least prepare the soil of your life in a way that something has the chance to grow.
Clearly, those tomato plants grew from the seeds of the previous year’s tomatoes that had dropped off the vine and never been cleaned up. Their seeds incubated through the winter months and finally sprouted when the time was right. However, just as many tomatoes dropped outside of my raised beds as stayed inside. Not a single tomato plant sprouted outside of the box in the hard clay soil.
Unlike my tomato plants, I believe that the way we enrich the soil of our lives is by getting out of our small raised bed box. By breaking up our normal routine. Leaving what is safe and what is known. By getting out of our neighborhood and having coffee across the river even if you’re not sure you’ll like the coffee. By taking a drawing class on a Monday evening even though you’re exhausted and it’s raining. By deciding to spend a weekend in an unfamiliar corner of your state even though you don’t know where to stay or what to do. By joining a rowing club because you love the water but you don’t know if you love rowing. By cracking that book you bought five years ago, Top 10 City Hikes, and actually going on one of those hikes in a new part of town with your reluctant kids. By disconnecting from social media for a month and reading a book that changes your outlook on life. By selling your house without a plan.
Anything you can do to ignite a part of your brain with new experiences and interactions with new people is how you nourish the soil of your life.
And while traveling the world would definitely get you out of your neighborhood, many of us have responsibilities and financial obligations that don’t allow for that. So know that you can break the routine right where you are. You can nourish that special something down deep inside of you from your hometown. But it requires effort and courage. Find the effort. Find the courage. Break your routine. Nourish the soil of your life.
Have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!
|Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Thyme|| |
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved (4 cups)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 Bay leaf
- Handful of unpeeled garlic cloves
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 300°F. On a baking sheet with raised, spread your tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer. Sprinkle your garlic cloves in-between the tomatoes. Evenly drizzle your olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic. Top with salt, pepper, thyme, and Bay leaf. Roast for 1½ hours.
- Pick out your thyme sprigs and Bay leaf with a fork and discard. If you are a garlic lover, once cooled, squeeze the roasted garlic out of its paper skin and leave with tomatoes, otherwise simply discard.
- Spoon this light yet luscious sauce over fresh pasta, grilled chicken, or on top of toasted bread. Stir it into cold quinoa and add basil for a delicious summer salad.