10:00 PM, I picked the last of the cherry tomatoes from the garden.
An early frost is predicted overnight,
threatening the last lingering, last tokens of summer now-past.
I should feel lucky to have a garden still producing tomatoes in November,
but this is Texas and I expect it,
so the coming frost caught me by surprise.
hoping the forecast might change
and spare the now dwindling harvest.
Rousing reluctant hope and day-drenched limbs,
I head into the dark for the last of the summer’s crop.
One by one I drop them into my pocket,
as I have done all summer, but with surprise at their change:
the once turgid sun-warmed orbs were now marbles.
The change caught my breath; it hung visibly in the rapidly chilling night air.
I usually relish season change;
hop along the sidewalk
savoring each dried leaf crackle crunch.
But sweetened gold of my first summer garden is hard to release.
This year feels different.
Can’t I have just one more week of warm sun of my face?
I’ll happily take the one more skin-peel sunburn,
one more swath of mosquito bitten ankles,
the drips of one more popsicle spotting my bare toes.
The days of eating tomato sandwiches:
a race against the lush, crumbling, juice-soaked bread over the sink
are now past.
I roll the now-picked, cool tomato marbles sighing in my hand
to blanket the herbs.
Perhaps just a few weeks more.