Summer saunters in like a waiter with a menu of laid-back opportunities, but the one I usually look forward to first is the arrival of homegrown tomatoes. 

I typically get my tomatoes in the ground around Easter, if it’s warm enough, and I coddle them a little in the small raised bed beside my house, and I pray for an early ripening. Most years, no matter when I plant, the tomatoes don’t start getting ripe until the first of July, when I’m nearly always tromping around the world someplace at a Baptist World Alliance meeting (this year it’s in Jamaica: life can be hard). 

When I chose a half-dozen tomato plants to set out this year, I picked three varieties, including one called “Early Girls,” and I planted a pair of them where they’d get the most sun. Lo and behold, the first one was ripe and ready by mid-June, and several more aren’t far behind. 

Standing over the sink while eating a juicy homegrown tomato sandwich is one of life’s simple pleasures. So, if our paths cross anytime soon and you hear me singing or humming under my breath, you’ll recognize John Denver’s anthem to the classic cuisine — listen to it here, or read the lyrics here, and it won’t be long before you’ll be singing along — hopefully while wiping tomato juice from your chin and offering thanks for one of God’s best gifts. 

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