|Rocky's "office" (Margo D. Beller)|
But I have been trying to walk more, even though the birds I hear I can find as easily in my backyard - fish crows, Carolina wrens, cardinals, grackles, song sparrows.
As I walk, staying out of the way of the people running on the sidewalks or the people with dogs or the ones with the baby carriages, I think about other walks in other years.
That made me think of Rocky.
|Tomatoes (Margo D. Beller)|
Then we moved to NJ. A few streets over, every summer, a handmade sign would be hammered into the grass at the corner. "Tomatoes" it would read, with an arrow pointing up the street.
It took me a few years to finally get the interest or the courage to investigate. I found a house on the corner where a huge hunk of property had been converted to growing tomatoes. I walked to the garage and looked in. A neighbor across the street called over that "he" might be in the house and to come back. It took weeks but I did.
I talked to Rocky, the man selling the tomatoes, who was in a wheelchair and hooked up to air because of emphysema. It did not stop him smoking or watching TV, usually westerns, with a small fan going.
|Zucchini plants (Margo D. Beller)|
For several years I would visit him every week, stocking up on tomatoes.
Then, two years ago, the sign did not go up. I later heard Rocky had died. His family has kept the garden going but now only half of it is tomatoes and they are not for sale. In the other half of the garden grow zucchinis and peppers. That house must have a lot of stewed tomatoes and sauce in the cellar.
I miss Rocky and I miss those tomatoes. I don't miss the walking, however. I'll have to make do with farm market tomatoes.