Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor day, and a tomat-ode

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.


Lane Mathias said...

Ooh Proper tomatoes. If you knew what a Suffolk accent sounded like (not that I have one..) you would say 'Prarper Tomarties'.
Sadly, due to the lack of pig faeces and appalling weather we haven't got any:((
Enjoy your stash..

Nikki Neurotic said...

I love tomatoes...

Unknown said...

Mmm, nothing better than home grown toms, sliced, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with basil and sea salt and then grilled.

Did you know it is a member of the deadly nightshade family and is known as the 'wolf peach'? The name tomato comes from the Nahuatl language - tomatl (I am researching the Mayan if you must know).

Unknown said...

I quite like Pommedamour(not sure if that's how it's spelt), but it seems they call it Tomate nowadays over here in French land.

The Moon Topples said...

Lane: Can you not import some feces? The good tomarties are surely worth the trouble.

SilverN: Yes, a nearly perfect food.

Minx: I was with you right up until the moment you put that poor helpless tomato on the grill. And I did know the nightshade thingie, but not the other things. Thanks for being the wikipedia of this blog.

Ver: I didn't understand some of your comment. It seemed almost like you were writing in another language.

Taffiny said...

What kind where they?

Those I planted have tough skins, mediocre flavor, and you don't get high off of the scent when you breathe them in.

If it is not the kind of tomato, but the contribution of the pigs, than I shall never grow proper ones. (There is a barn down the street with a sign "free horse manure". But I am not "that sort" of gardener, I pay for mine, at Home Depot, and it is cow, and dehydrated). Feels like TMI.