|the one tomato sandwich: bacon, blue cheese dressing, fresh basil. outright deliciousness.|
That’s the number of beefsteak tomatoes I’ve gotten to enjoy from my garden this season. The harvest was plentiful—round, red, robust—waiting to be sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper. This is the time of year I am usually eating thick bites of tomato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
But someone has been getting to my tomatoes before I can pluck them off the vine, all ripe and ready. Someone who leaves them half-eaten, only skeletal remains—skins discarded in the bed below. I caught the thief red-handed—or should I say, red-bellied—the other day.
It’s a red-bellied woodpecker. He pokes through all of my best and brightest to get the seeds and juice.
I’ve put up extra suet and made sure the feeders are full in the hopes the bandit will choose to dine elsewhere. But every day he robs again. He’s even started testing out my Roma’s.
I was telling one of my patients about my garden troubles yesterday. He said, “Why, you are inviting the rascal in for more! You need to put something out to deter him, not draw him in!” The wise man suggested I put cheesecloth over the plants. I haven’t had time to go out scouting for cheesecloth but last night I decided I’d try a version of the old scarecrow. My garden now has a smattering of pie tins throughout. One online source said the reflection from the tins would scare robber birds away.
We shall see.
Last night, as I was tying tins to tomato cages, I started thinking about that scripture where Jesus says, “The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.” It’s a passage in Matthew 9 nestled in with a series of accounts of healings. Verse 36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
After I put the tins out, I drove to the high school to pick up Jeffrey from band practice. Alone time in the car is a spacious place for me and though the trip was short, I found myself in tears, thanking God for his kind compassion. I’ve been all tied up in knots trying to get ready for my book release in October.And I’ve forgotten to count the blessing of it all.
When I look back on my life—harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd—it is only by the Grace that I am where I am today. Because of his love and compassion. Things like beefsteak tomatoes and book releases … ah, these are gifts—the fallout of God’s love for me. The world sometimes robs the gifts, but it can never take the source—the great Love.
I might yet look for some cheesecloth to cover my tomato plants. There’s still time to enjoy the harvest. But I am opening my heart to receive the Giver of these gifts more fully today.
The true gift is this Love that never fails.