“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Lewis Grizzard
One day my mother phoned a number of her old, long-distance friends and every one of them was in some point of transition to a retirement home. One was already settled, a block from the water’s edge in Juno Beach, Florida.
“But how can this be?” she cried, “When just a few years ago I was only sixteen!”
My parents are presently caught up in their own such move. My mother is subject to purging moods where she would get rid of everything and run like her house was on fire. Whereas Dad would have it that they just not go, and fights it every step of the way.
I arrived on the scene and found a sofa missing and the living room rug rolled up but rug pad down, in a house that was still on the market. I was at a crossroads: assist them in packing or restage their house for showing? Or both.
It is important that family help. Mom and Dad had hired a lady, “a down-sizing expert” she called herself, who came and helped herself to things. She combed through their drawers and closets and went off with—well, they are not quite sure what she went off with or where it all went. A Cardinal Cushing Consignment Shop was mentioned, and I have every intention to go there to look for a silver salad utensil that I had expressed interest in. It was perfect for serving a dish we adore in my home, Insalata Caprese (sliced fresh buffalo mozzeralla, sliced fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, seasoned with salt, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil or balsalmic vinegar or both).
My mother and I have done this dance before–she wanted a debutante and what she got was a hippie. There were visits home from college where my blue jeans would magically disappear in the laundry, after all the time invested to soften them, before manufacturers ever dreamed of stone-washing. So I became accustomed then to walking down to The Child and Family Services Thrift Shop in town, combing the racks for my blue jeans and buying them back. I would do this again for that silver utensil.
Which brings me to the tomato. I have a friend who just this week packed up all her belongings and moved from Seattle to San Diego for the tomatoes. Well, there were other factors on her list, but tomatoes, she tells me, were in the top three. I can understand that. I had an aunt who once said of the caprese salad, “I could live on this!” She was the one who introduced me to caprese, and I must say there has never been a more delicious, or more simple, salad since.
I would like to tell my parents it’s not all about the big things in life, like the move, but rather, the little things, such as vine-ripened tomatoes.