February Tomatoes

February is when I really start missing the smell of tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes for sure, but also the smell of the vines as you tie them off on stakes. Market tomatoes have never captured the essence of fresh summer tomatoes. Better than nothing? Sometimes nothing is better. This was all triggered by a Caprese salad, with the basil dominating the senses, the olive oil and balsamic drizzle playing complimentary roles, but the tomato was a silent partner; like white bread it had no soul. Such is February in New England: the senses get shorted.

A mild winter so far doesn’t translate into the garden. There’s still 3 inches of frozen snow clamped down in the lawn, the garden and the pool, like a hand over the mouth whispering ominously; not yet. Precipitation forecasted for the day includes the “wintry mix” we all hate. Rain or snow? We’ll deal with that. Wintry mix? Make up your mind already!

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The days are longer, there are lawn mowers and seeds on display in hardware stores, and the first day of Spring is four weeks away. February is flying right by, the way the rest of life does. It’s only a matter of time before the soil warms up and unlocks the smells of spring. In the meantime, there’s always a greenhouse or two to explore to get that flower fix. But tomatoes are going to be awhile here in New England. Part of living here, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

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