I pulled up the tomato plants today. I'd been putting it off, since so many green cherries still weighed down the branches, and tiny yellow flowers still insisted on blooming. But everything had ceased to ripen, the vines were a brown and decaying mess, and my neighbors were probably tired of looking at it all.
Three overgrown plants. Removing them was like cutting down a forest. I filled half the complex dumpster with them. Pulling and cutting and stepping on dropped, popped fruit underscored the sense of death and passing that permeated the last 5 days.
It rained on my way home Wednesday after Amy told me about Kaya. It rains most days in November. There's not enough sunshine, and this is a big part of why things die. She warned me that winter would be hard, maybe too hard for her.
In May, I planted bells, poblanos, serranos, dill, and basil, but all of those were crowded out and consumed by the tomatoes. They were the most vibrant, wild, prolific tomato plants I'd ever seen. The first I'd ever planted myself. They tasted better than even the farmer's market tomatoes. Depending on how widely you stretch the word, you could even say I loved those fragrant plants and the bright red bouquets they gave.
As I cut through the thicket and finally made it through the lower branches, I found three pepper plants. Stunted, but living and flowering, just weeks before Thanksgiving. A small green pepper hung from one of them.
Life. Different, more delicate life, only visible after something more powerful and virile stepped down. I read too much into it, I'm sure, in my need to make sense of tragedy. Nonetheless, maybe she's finding the same in her own garden. I hope she is finding what she needed, after casting what she had aside.
I love you, Kaya. Always will. Keep on growing, okay?