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Early Harvest

By Sandra Clark

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.
I waited,
hoping the forecast might change
and spare the now dwindling harvest.

It didn’t.

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
for revival,

and run
to blanket the herbs.

Perhaps just a few weeks more.

About Sandra Clark

Sandra Clark Jergensen's writing (most often about food) has been published in Gastronomica, Apartment Therapy, The Exponent, and at Segullah, where she was once the Editor-in-Chief, and now as Features Editor. Sandra geeked out on food and writing as a master's student food studies at University of Texas, Arlington. She makes her home in California where she runs without shoes, foster parents, teaches cooking, develops recipes, and struggles to take pictures with her eyes open, and sometimes all at the same time. She is the owner and creator of thekitchennatural.com.

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