Friday, October 4, 2013


With so much upheaval and drama and work and animals, the thing that alarms me the most is this: The window for tomato sandwiches is closing. The end is in sight.

I think, how nice it is to be a seasonal worker...you think you just can't look at another peony then poof! peonies are done and you're on to poppies and foxgloves. Nature is so clever like that.

Here on the ranch I've been homesteading hard. My pockets are full of clothespins and alfalfa pellets. I'm not going to draw a picture that isn't true, so let me try to honestly tell you what the summer has been like.

Well, for one thing; without question my mayonaise consumption has spiked considerably in the last few months. This is for tomato sandwiches, the one thing in nature that I am always ALWAYS sad to see pass. The time of the tomato, never long enough.


What is it about tomatoes that makes them the prize of the garden? I don't even like tomatoes that much (except for the sandwiches) and yet I work the hardest for our tomato crop. Worry over it like nothing else in our garden. Googling diseases, fertilizing them, tying them up, pruning them.

In July we had fine plants, all thriving, being their little tomato selves...setting flowers and little fruits. Over 100 plants (it was a winter of big dreams.) By August we were eating sandwiches everyday, and how do I like my sandwiches? I'm so glad you asked...

Bread I'm not fussy over, it's usually a sprouted Alvarado St. sliced loaf available in the freezer section of the local Hans. But, what I am fussy for - and this is really out of character, likely a carry over from my childhood - is Sweet Munchie or Muenster cheese. I broke down and just started buying it by the pound at the deli counter, a place I frequent only between the months of August and October.


If I have those things, then I need red onion and mayonaise, Hellmans only. At someone else's farm recently they mentioned a Hellmans boycott (Hellmans uses GMO soybean oil) which made me flush and uncomfortable. For christs sake, I'm growing my own food and drinking water out of a mason jar. How far are we going to take this?

The winner in the tomato department, this year at least, for us, was Yellow Brandy Wine. A very good producer, good flavor, perhaps not better than Pineapple, but what it lacked in flavor it made up in vigor. A tomato I like better is Green Zebra, but this is not big enough for a sandwich, at least not the way I roll. I like to take a big tomato, and cut the middle into a 1" slice. That goes in the sandwich, the ends get seasoned and [wow I'm really divulging here] slathered in mayonaise and then consumed either first - a sort of appetizer - or second as a coda to the main portion of the performance. A private performance - I should mention that my favorite way to eat this lunch is alone.


So that's been the summer basically, sandwich land. Today Eric reminded me that we're almost done. We're about to pull the last tomatoes; ones we had to plant up in the flower field when we ran out of room in the garden. I actually don't want to talk about this anymore, I've indulged...gone too far already.

I'm having a coffee now, reheated from it's tepid state a few minutes ago. It's 3:35. We're alone here today, and it's raining on and off. Real gloomy the way I like it.

The season keeps creeping on, we've not had a real frost yet and the dahlias I planted late are just starting to really come on, as if they had no idea it was October.

We've had so many visitors this summer, people coming through for classes, apprenticeships, private lessons, visits, photographs...people coming through to work, camp, learn, eat. I've been trying to figure out how to have so many guests, how to balance (a word I don't believe in, but will use here for lack of a better term) the excitement of sharing with my constant desire to be alone. The truth is, as much as I love flowers I can't talk endlessly about them. Someone once said to me, 'maybe you want to think you're a giver, but you're really not a giver.' Which has stuck with me.

I'm looking out the window again and it is so beautiful. The trees are all colored against a dark grey sky. This is my favorite October party trick. I'm torn between sitting here getting to my work or going outside to take a walk with the dogs. Even if I do, it won't be enough. The heartbreak of Autumn.

There's never enough of it.












22 comments:

Meredith said...

My fav mater sandwich:
the cheapest white bread available, Duke's Mayonnaise, salt & pepper and two slivers off a Cherokee Purple.

Mlle Paradis said...

none of us can ever give as much as we'd like to think we would. (or other's think we should, sadly.) that's o.k. you are a prodigious talent in your writing, your photos and your accomplishments with this farm and your flowers.

i'll decline to add anything about the tomato sandwiches.

thx for letting us in to this little bit of "gloom" - just the way we like it!

LPC said...

October party trick.

October is the world's party trick, right?

I'm going to steal that phrase, somehow. Such a talent.

Claire said...

Thank you making time to lay these words down and bank them with these beautiful images. Tomatoes....pomodoro...

Jen said...

This made me think of Harriet the Spy (who seems like your kind of gal).

"The next morning Mrs. Welsch asked "Wouldn't you like to try a ham sandwich, or egg salad, or peanut butter?"
"Tomato," said Harriet, not even looking up from the book she was reading at breakfast.
"Stop reading at the table." Harriet put the book down. "Listen Harriet, you've taken a tomato sandwich to school every day for five years. Don't you get tired of them?"
"No."

Sarah said...

If I could plunk myself down and watch the gloom and eat tomato sandwiches with you...I would. Your world sounds so magnificent, surrounded by flowers on a farm. :)

Love your blog! It's been a huge inspiration in my dreams of having a lovely flower farm full of old fashioned romantic flowers. :)

Sarah xo

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

Wow, that first photo looks like a beautiful oil painting.

The 'balance' thing is hard, sometimes the life you feel you want to create and the life you need to be most happy aren't exactly the same. I definitely need more time alone that I like to think I do to feel at my best.

www.thebluecarrot.co.uk said...

You might question your ability to give- but let me tell you Sarah, you give SO MUCH. I'm following your blog for a good five years now and just seeing your work once a week or so has given me soooo much hope and inspiration. And really, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now, without what you have given me. Sorry for being so dramatic, but when I heard you questioning your ability to give, I just had to jump in: DON'T

Anonymous said...

dogs? have i missed something? has nea got a new friend??

Anonymous said...

i love the ambiguity of the last two sentences. heartbreak or autumn, both feel true.

jkaye said...

Oh how you write! I love it. I can relate wholeheartedly to your love of Tomato Sandwiches. They are the best.

capitallist said...

HI..I love your way of presentation... Specially the tomato sandwich i loved it lot.. Great job dude..
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sk said...

Beautiful photos.
As a fellow tomato sandwich lover, I just gotta say-- have you TRIED Duke's? I mean, COMEON! It's the best. And the no-GMO's thing is just icing on the cake. :)

count buckula said...

grilled cheese and tomato, fo' real doe...

Anonymous said...

Hellman's also makes a soy free mayo. You can have your mayo and feel virtuous, too!

Camille said...

Can't believe someone got to the Harriet the Spy quote before me.

Harriet resonated with me even as a little girl because she is true to herself. Zero capacity for bullshit. Sometimes that means endless tomato sandwiches and sometimes that means writing the raw truth in her journal. So feel free to mope about in the gloomy weather and enjoy your time alone--Harriet would approve.

Anonymous said...

It is truly a sweet treat to arrive home from my own flower shop and read your fantastic blog! My fav " for Christ's sake..........

Anonymous said...

I have never, not once, commented on anyone's blog though I do spend my fair share of time reading them. But your writing! It's killing me it so good. I feel like you are reading my mind, but using words I could not begin to produce.
I prefer my tomato sandwiches with butter, no mayo, and lots of flaky sea salt. Tomato sandwiches three meals a day in August is what I strive for.

Mel said...

So beautifully written, and so spot on. Thank you, as ever, for sharing your world.

I third the Duke's mayo comment (it's totally the best), and after reading this and seeing the photos am happily looking forward to FL's tomato season, which isn't for a couple months yet.

Kay said...

loved every word you wrote...you made me laugh out loud!!...also love reading everyone's comments.....yes anon two dogs come on keep up!!....and now i'm going to have to look for Harriet the Spy....

fleur_delicious said...

these photos are dreamy; youv'e snared autumn here, shimmering like a mirage somewhere between sun and shadow.

In Japanese culture, autumn is the season of ghosts and longings. Somehow, that's always felt very true to me, though I still wonder why I love this vague melancholy so. I suspect it has something to do with how brief it all feels, the change happens so quickly, it's always slipping through our fingers faster than we can appreciate it.

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