Hoosiers have a certain look about them beginning sometime in June each year that accelerates until mid-August. A down turn in purpose and verve. A look of longing. Seeking.
They are listless; searching for meaning in life and a sense of being incomplete. They are a bit irritated, agitated and tense. They have difficulty concentrating and holding coherent conversations. Some suffer withdrawal symptoms and show indications of a decline in general health and sense of well being. Yearning. Seeking a better future. Doctors and psychiatrists have diagnosed the problem and discovered that it is similar to spring fever but it is not exactly the same.
Indiana University doctors have given the malaise a name: ITDGS (Indiananesius Tomatocalistic Delayeth of Gratification Syndrome) but all it really is they are waiting for that first delicious tomato of the season. There is only one cure.
Our tomato plants have outdone themselves this summer as some people say. We cannot keep up with production. And that is good. We endure hot house tomatoes sold in stores from late fall until mid-summer. Endure is a good word since they are usually picked when green because they travel with less damage when shipped from Central America, Florida or California. Then when they get to Kroger's distribution center they are given a spray bath of a gas that causes them to ripen quickly but they taste like a piece of wet shoe leather.
Tomatoes are the only garden plant that starts as a seed that sprouts into a seedling that grows into a plant that when transplanted into a garden becomes a vine (really a plant) that produces the fruit. Puzzling. I have never understood why tomato plants are called tomato vines. I don't know.
Perhaps you do.
Another thing. Are tomatoes vegetable or fruit? They are sold in the produce section of Kroger and Sprawl-Mart beside and with vegetables. All of the recipes and articles in all the cook books of the Midwest and nation call them vegetables and treat them as such.
Why do others insist that they be called a fruit? Because the tomato is developed from the ovary in the base of the flower and contains the seeds of the plant it is a fruit. Ergo. They are fruit.
Many Hoosiers plant at least one tomato plant. It doesn't matter if the house is in the country, a small town, in the suburbs and even on patios and balconies in the larger cities because people plant tomatoes to enjoy that lip smacking juicy, red orb of deliciousness that only comes with tomatoes picked from your own plant.
Years ago yellow tomatoes and yellow meat watermelons began to appear in markets and gardens. "Heresy," yelled the purists. "Tomatoes and watermelons are red. Yellow does not taste right."
Their point is well taken and deserves due consideration. It looks like a tomato. It smells like a tomato. It feels like a tomato. But it doesn't taste like a tomato because tomatoes are red not yellow! The same arguments were waged against yellow watermelons. There is a higher level of acceptance now. I don't care what others say or believe, tomatoes and watermelons are supposed to be red. Case closed.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656. Write him at Larry Vandeventer 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.