In the dusk that’s gathered almost into night I see them, red tomato-jewels still warm from the afternoon sun piled loose on my the front porch table.
There’s more than I can eat by myself, I who won’t eat them plain but love them in oil and vinegar and cheese.
Two weeks ago, making tacos for dinner, I suddenly wanted tomatoes diced with onion. Mine aren’t producing, so I ran, barefoot, next door, asked to trade a zucchini for a tomato.
He wouldn’t take my trade, but I haven’t been without tomatoes since. I need to make tomato sauce, freeze it in quart bags.
I don’t know how to can.
Green beans are growing long at last on the bush-vines in the back yard. Zucchinis, weary now, stems rotting from too much rain, still grow one or two a week.
At the grocery store on a Thursday night, I see cherries are $1.50 a pound. I pull all produce from my cart to buy them out of cherries instead, quick math in my head to figure how many pounds I can afford, when I pass the peaches.
Just 55 cents a pound. The lowest price of the season. I buy six pounds of them, because they’ll freeze, cut into thick slices.
Cherries I buy just enough to eat before they spoil; they sit blood-red in the cut-crystal bowl that was my great-grandmother’s.
The peaches, they mound high in the glass salad bowl. My mother’s wedding present now 28 (29?) years old, I saved it from her give-away pile, use it for fruit. There’s a small, drying leaf still clinging to a stem.
It’s late summer, and ads for corn and peaches mingle with ads for pick-your-own apples in the classifieds. The sun shines warm in the afternoons and the children play half-naked in their yards but the nights are cool and the dew is heavy and last week I saw my breath, walking to work.
Banners across Seventh Street scream welcome to new college students. Small boys with voices lingering between octaves fill junior high practice fields in the afternoon, shoulder pads twice as wide as any other part of their slim bodies. The coach, he calls roll, and they try to sound tough.
From over the rooftops I hear the band start up, counting a beat through a megaphone.
It’s Friday and there’s one week left before another semester begins.
But really, these late-summer days are the best. There’s sunshine and fruit and vegetables and you can soak up the sun anyway way you please, but at night we can sit on our porch and watch the sun sink low and the children play.
We can start a fire in the backyard and pull closer to its warmth.
And today? I’m forgetting about the end of my favorite time of year and thinking instead about every possible way to be in this sunshine; to feel it on my skin and taste it in the soft peach flesh and the tart cherries and the tomato juice, running warm all over my cutting board.
Here is to a weekend of sunshine, friends!