Posts Tagged 'Tomatoes'

There’s no place like home…

It’s that time of year.  Planting time.  Time to perform the annual rite of sticking little green plants in the ground and hoping something good comes of them before the critters get there.

We’ve tried lots of different veggies with varying degrees of failure.  The only ones that keep us coming back every year are tomatoes and basil.  Even the tomatoes rebelled last year and showed up with deep chasms in their skin and a less than dynamic harvest.  The basil grew into a forest and we made pesto that now resides in cute little muffin wrappers in our freezer.

We drove down to Ventura via the 126 and got off at Victoria.  Traffic was jammed as we approached the County Government Center.  I did my usual “what the hell am I doing here routine” as Sweetie cautioned me to be patient.  We approached the seat of government and were greeted by what appeared to be circus performers lining both sides of the avenue.  Flags flew, funny hats were in abundance, and some painted faces poked out at us.

Turned out to be folks protesting taxes.  It was the Great Tea Bag event emulating the 1773 Boston Tea Party that complained about being taxed without the benefit of elected representation.  This 2009 Tea Bag protest was promoted by Republicans, conservative talk show hosts and Fox news.  Big surprise.

About half the protesters were teenagers and small children.  They can be excused for not realizing that we actually have elected representatives.  Like Audra Strickland, whose major contribution to government was her recent effort to introduce religion into the public school system, the young folks probably don’t read much (especially the Constitution, Supreme Court decisions or a newspaper).  So they can be excused for not knowing that we currently enjoy the lowest taxes of any industrialized nation.  And, that Obama has further reduced the taxes for 95% of them.

We slogged through the traffic created by the event and pulled into Green Thumb.  The wind was blowing a ton.  After grabbing a couple bags of tree netting intended to slow the onslaught of various chipmunks, gophers and other creatures of the night, we arrived in the vast vegetable colossus.  As is my custom, I walked down the rows of tomato plants, skipping the “heirlooms.”  After consistently failing to produce either quantity or quality heirloom tomatoes, I have taken every opportunity to denigrate them to anyone who will listen.

I stared at the tomato tags trying to decipher the codes, VFFA, VFNT, etc. that tell you which variety is the least likely to die of plague before you get them home.  Giving up, I tried to recall which of last year’s varieties were least offensive.  Was it Celebrity, Champion, Big Boy, Best Boy, Atta Boy?  I grabbed at the nearest plant, the one without a caterpillar or dried out planting mix.

“Excuse me, sir.  Have you got any Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes?”  The man in the Green Thumb shirt said “If we do, they are with the other cherries.”  I should have known there weren’t any but I stared at the labels with my rapidly deteriorating vision.  No luck.  I should have known.

Proceeding to the bastion of basil plants I searched for Sweet Basil.  Now for those you who know anything about basil, you know that Sweet Basil outsells every other plant including Acapulco Gold and Cambodian Red.  I found two small basil plants that looked like they wouldn’t make it to the checkout stand.  “Excuse me sir, do you have any more Sweet Basil?”  The Green guy said “Come back Friday.”  I should have known.

Enough.  Rolling our dreary purchases to the checkout stand we were pleased to see that two were without customers, just waiting to serve us.  I sized them up and picked one.  But, as the ancient knight in the Indiana Jones movie The Last Crusade said when the bad guy drank from the poisoned cup and dissolved bones and all…”He chose poorly.”

The Green shirted checker ignored us.  After dutifully waiting for any acknowledgement of our presence, Sweetie, as only she can do, said “Are you busy?”  We concluded the transaction in an air that can only be described as icy.  We walked to our car intoning “never again.”

“Why don’t we go to that cute little nursery over on Baldwin Road.  What’s it called?  Mountain View, Mountain Meadows, something like that.  It’s on the way home.  Maybe we’ll get lucky.”  And we did.

Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes.  Enough to forest all of Ventura County.  Sweet Basil that said “Take me with you.  I promise to be good…very good.”  Stuff that looked so fresh that we even dared to buy peas and beans.  “Take that, you pesky critters.”

And what a check-out experience.  The nice woman actually said hello and smiled at us, like she meant it.  Then she apologized about a lack of cardboard boxes to pack the stuff.  Apologized for having to give us a plastic tray.  We stared at each other.  We thought we had died and gone to plant heaven.  But we hadn’t.  All we did was stay close to home.

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