Monday was Labor Day in America. As it is a day off of work to celebrate the working folks, this is often the year's most ironic holiday for me.
Other countries hold similar celebrations on May 1st. A little research revealed to me that some of these international celebrations of labor can be partially traced back to the Haymarket Riots in 1886, right here in Chicago (the American celebration can be traced back slightly further, to 1882). Grisly stuff, the Riots, but you can read more about it here if you are so inclined. Apparently, getting an 8-hour workday made into law was quite a difficult process.
Why does it always seem like the fair city of Chicago is only ever noticed when something horrible happens here? But enough of civic self-pity.
I spent my Labor Day laboring, once I finally finally shook off the shackles of sleep late in the afternoon. I am proud to say I was putting words upon paper again, although not on actual paper. Actual words, though.
What finally roused me was a phone call from my friend Craig, who was returning from a weekend visiting his folks on the other side of the state, near the Mississippi River and the Iowa border. This is the area from which he hails.
Craig was calling me to get me to come outside and claim some of the tomatoes which his father grows, and about which I have been pestering Craig since the last time he gave me some, late in the summer of 2002. I ate them like apples, juice running down my chin. They were heaven itself.
It should be noted that I adore tomatoes, even the hard, mealy things which use the same name and are commonly available here in the city. These are something else entirely. Craig's childhood home was a working pig farm. His parents retired some time ago, but the 25 years of pig feces has left them with some incredibly rich soil. Tomatoes apparently leap forth from these patches of land like the cicadas which flooded the air earlier this summer.
He brought me five tomatoes, with instructions that I should be careful to eat them today and tomorrow lest they split their skins and attract insects.
Not a problem. Two have already fallen. After I hit "publish," the third shall meet its fate.