The morning air is cool and crisp in the Midwest now as October paints autumn leaves in vibrant reds and golds. Puffs of breath fog the air from early walks with the dog and crystals of dew glitter on blades of grass as the sun rises in the sky. It’s last call on beautiful weather. Last call on clear blue skies and days that gradually warm with each hour of the rising sun until the perfect 75 degrees hits the mark.
In the garden, the tomatoes are slower to brighten to their orange-red glow. The yield is thinner and each glorious fruit is more precious than the last, each meaty slice full of juicy flavor.
Our favorite way to eat the garden tomatoes are to slice them thin, sprinkle lightly with a little sea salt, top with freshly torn basil leaves right from the garden and drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar. A mouth-watering delight worth dreaming about all year long, it can only be done with vine-fresh tomatoes. Anything less isn’t worth the effort.
Every October, with the first heavy frost looming on the horizon, the tomatoes seem to taste even better. Or perhaps they are just more appreciated knowing they will soon be gone again until next June. I daydream of building a greenhouse over the garden to stretch out the days. A fool’s dream, but one I have every year- designing the greenhouse in my mind, envisioning the ability to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables all through the brutal winter chill.
I want to make these precious days last. I want to savor every juicy moment, harvest every golden memory, bask in the wamth of the last lingering days of sun.
And although the season is short, I hang on tight to each day, fully appreciating the little time that is left. Time to finish up those last few summer dreams. Time to finish up those final chores that can be done outside while the weather holds. Time for a few more picnics, bike rides through the forest preserves, hikes through the woods.
Time for a few more tomatoes while they are still on the vine. I don’t want to waste a single one.