Last month, a friend kindly gave me and Matt some heirloom tomato seedlings, which we happily potted up in containers on our front porch, a location which neighbors suggested would help protect the plants from the lips of the many hungry deer who share our neighborhood with us.
All was well until my strangest and strongest pregnancy aversion hit: to tomatoes, in all forms — the fruits, sauces, and scents, the plants, and even pictures of the plants. I couldn’t bear to see or smell any of them! Walking up the steps to our front porch — flanked by those growing tomato plants — became an exercise in controlling my gag reflex. It was wild!
Pregnant women report all sorts of aversions to objects and odors that might signal a potential gastrointestinal danger: raw meat, milk, vegetables, scents with notes of rot or overripeness. But I’d never heard of such a strong reaction to tomato plants. My only guess at an explanation for the strange quirk: that my pregnancy spidey-senses were responding to the fact that tomatoes are part of the Nightshade Family — Solanaceae — a plant family which famously includes many toxic plants, such as the mandrake and belladonna and, of course, nightshades (most parts of which are poisonous to humans).
In light of this, Matt kindly moved the plants to the side of the house, out of my line of sight. (Thanks, Matt.) The deer stayed away. But the squirrels didn’t!
Every day, they climb the steel tomato supports to snag little green tomatoes — and both the squirrels and the plants go toppling to the ground in the process.
I don’t know if we’ll muster the motivation to sink the plants into the ground for support, or if we’ll just keep up a daily game of you-knock-’em-down-we’ll-set-’em-up with the squirrels. (Today, it’s 99 F with 88% humidity, and the idea of digging in the garden just seems… overwhelming.)
But I DO know that I’m enjoying the sight of the beautiful spider who has taken up residence on our tomato plants. She’s admirably persistent: she sticks around, no matter how many times she’s been toppled!
Philosophy in Warm Weather
Now all the doors and windows
are open, and we move so easily
through the rooms. Cats roll
on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp
climbs the pane, pausing
to rub a leg over her head.
All around physical life reconvenes.
The molecules of our bodies must love
to exist: they whirl in circles
and seem to begrudge us nothing.
Heat, Horatio, heat makes them
put this antic disposition on!
This year’s brown spider
sways over the door as I come
and go. A single poppy shouts
from the far field, and the crow,
beyond alarm, goes right on
pulling up the corn.
- Jane Kenyon, from The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986)