How a Tomato Is Not Like a Child

School started! School started! I’ve never enjoyed the start of school so much. Traditionally I’ve found this time of year depressing, even in those years when I was out of school but didn’t have kids yet. When I was a kid myself, I absolutely hated going back to school.

But this week I was so happy to load up the backpacks and set my alarm. Routine… I missed you so much. I get to say, in somber, disapproving tones, “It’s a school night,” that magical phrase that deflates all kinds of bad ideas.

And I’m excited by the hint of fall that’s in the air, even in the midst of 90-degree days. Beautiful fall weather lends itself to exercise, painting projects, baking, all kinds of stuff. Yes, I want to eat all kinds of things pumpkin, although not pumpkin lattes. I don’t go for pumpkin drinks. Well, maybe a pumpkin margarita. I’ll probably see that on Facebook tomorrow.

It helps that we were able to go down the Shore one last time. My parents decided to rent a house for this past week, so we went Tuesday-Wednesday. One last time to dive under the waves and eat Manco and Manco pizza. Since we got back, I have felt reenergized. Playtime is over. Cleaning, purging, organizing, knocking things off the to-do list, feeling slightly in control for once.

The whole gardening/farming dream is still on my mind. I was excited to get home and work on the garden, and find myself daydreaming about next year’s plan. I feel happy to have found a whole new subject to study that I’m interested in, and that is fairly straightforward.

For instance, my husband has been picking green tomatoes and bringing them in the house to ripen. “I think they’re supposed to stay on the vine,” I told him. “‘Vine-ripened tomatoes’ and all that.”

“No, no. The plants in the back of the yard are like that, but these ones on the rogue plant are just not getting red. They must be a different variety that doesn’t ripen on the vine.”

“Oh, okay.” This happens all the time. My husband has a way of saying things that are totally dumb or total BS and making them sound very wise. It’s his gift. After a few days, though, I consulted the Internet and learned that this was crap. Whether he made it up to mess with me or he really believed it, I’m still not sure.

The Internet had lots of information on the weather conditions necessary for ripening and tricks you can use to get them to ripen, on the vine or off the vine. Turns out that when temperatures are above 85 degrees, ripening can be inhibited. As fall approaches, you can pinch off the flowers that haven’t fruited yet to try to get more energy into the fruit that is there. I ended up joining a Facebook group for local gardeners, so I can bring them my questions in the future. But I’m just loving that there is all this stuff out there to learn, and that it’s so scientific. It’s not like the debate over whether the U.S. should go to war against ISIS. It’s not gun control. It’s not income disparity or is Common Core good for kids. It’s agricultural science, and I have a whole backyard to experiment in and get answers from.

My husband and I have an ongoing debate on whether our oldest should be allowed to watch World War Z. I say no, he says yes, he lets him, I turn it off, on and on. After having one of these discussions with him, wherein psychology, sociology, Dr. Spock, helicopter parenting, Columbine, Ebola virus and more are brought up, it’s a relief to pick up the garden book and read about tulip bulbs.

Here are some gardening sites I’ve been visiting lately: a New Jersey garden and the Urban Organic Gardener.

And here are the ethical consumer websites I mentioned in a previous post: The Good Guide and Transnationale.org. The latter is hard to navigate, but the Good Guide is super user friendly. It rates products based on their health, environmental, and social impacts. For instance, my car, a 2010 Honda Odyssey, has a combined rating of 5.5, while the Nissan Leaf gets a 7.0. Original Cheerios gets a 7.5. Most of the products available to search fall within the categories of food, personal care, cleaning, and baby/kid. I don’t know how practical it is right now, but it gives you an idea of what may come in the future. I will say that after looking up the dry food I buy the cats and seeing its low rating, I’m thinking about switching.

I apologize for the disjointed nature of this post, but my blogging time is taking a hit since our sitter left. I’m hoping that as we settle into our new routine, with my younger son now going to pre-K, I will get some time back.

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