Tuesday, 15 November 2011

In The Glasshouse

 
 Each Spring we plant tomatoes, a tradition that started with my father many years ago.  Every year on Labour Day (last Monday in October) for as long as I can remember, my father would bring home from the city a large flat box with tomato plants about a foot high.  Every year the same variety (money maker) on the exact same day, without fail.  I remember the smell of the plants when a hand brushed their leaves or stems, the stain that does not easily come off your hands and the smell and quiet, humid  atmosphere of planting time inside my father's glasshouse.  It was his quiet meditation.  For my father had a precise routine (as he did for most things in his life) as to the planting of HIS tomato plants and the layout inside HIS glasshouse.  My Mother was never allowed to plant cucumbers or flowers or orchids.
It was a glasshouse that he had built himself.  Being an engineer by study and an inventor by practice it was designed to gather and hold as much of the suns heat as possible.  Concrete block along the back wall and glass along the front.
My father didn't like my constant talking and questions when he was in the garden, so when I was with him planting tomatoes or onions outside I just observed his procedures, sometimes helped and tried not to ask too many questions.  And each season as I plant our family's tomato plants I am transported back to those times when Dad explained how and why to plant them up to their bottom leaf in order to stabilise them.  Dig a watering channel in front of the plants because tomatoes don't like getting their leaves wet.  How to tie them up as they grow taller so the stem grows upright and their fruit is kept off the ground.  How to take off their side shoots. 
 All of this comes back to me each season, each time I step into our glasshouse. I think of those quiet times where silence tells its own story.  I remember those times with my father and  I am grateful.

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