Summer Vacation

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ummer. My family didn’t take vacations, my parents worked too much for that. But my mother made up for it with tomatoes. While many of my friends visited the Grand Canyon, or the beach, we ate Heirlooms

By the barrel.

That’s because Mother had a productive garden. She tended it with bare hands, pulling weeds for hours in the sun. By June, we could see the Blackfoot Indian in her – she tanned better than anyone in the county. Daddy teased her about it, but only because he was jealous.

He sunburned faster than redheaded bacon.

Mother passed her entire summer behind a chicken wire fence, with her tomatoes. Beefsteaks, San Marzanos, and Purple Cherokees. She did more with that little plot of dirt than some people do with a Harvard degree.

That was her vacation.

One summer, my best friend went to Disney World. He was gone for two whole weeks, though it seemed like six years. He sent me a postcard of himself shaking Mickey Mouse’s hand.

It about killed me.

Mother glanced at the postcard. “Just look at that, some poor fool dressed up like Mickey Mouse to pay the bills.” She winked. “I wouldn’t shake hands with a rat. Filthy old things.”

Mother walked over to the basket of Brandywine tomatoes on the washing machine. She rifled through them and selected the prettiest one. Then she sacrificed it on the cutting board. She fixed a ten-inch-high tomato sandwich that made Disney World look like a joke.

And then she split it with me.

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