“That was a good looking tomato.”
I rushed over to the window where my husband was standing, excited to see the first fruit of the season. I could already taste my egg and tomato breakfast.
I hadn’t heard him use the past tense.
When I got to the window, there was Penelope, munching away, two-thirds of the tomato gone, the rest still hanging neatly on the vine while she finished her meal. Penelope is the name we have given to the wild rabbit that has taken up residence under our shed.
“Why you little . . .” I laughed. Of course she was eating it. We hadn’t put up a fence around the slightly raised vegetable bed, even after Penelope trimmed back the hosta in the front garden. For the most part, she simply kept the clover in check. Shame on us for assuming the rabbit would act like the squirrel in one of my favorite children’s books about gardening and advise the little animals not to steal what others had worked so hard to grow. I could imagine Penelope’s garden behind the shed: carrots, lettuce, broccoli. She wouldn’t need to steal from me. I didn’t even think rabbits liked tomatoes (squirrels, yes, but rabbits?).
I love fresh garden tomatoes. Still, I always account for the fellow residents of my yard taking their share of my garden. I get upset when they get greedy, and I guess I had hoped they would save the first fruit for me. That’s what you get when you read too many children’s books with kindly animal protagonists.
I went out to the garden later in the morning. I didn’t see any other evidence of damage, though there should have been more squash on the vine for all the giant yellow blooms I’ve admired each morning. I harvested a low hanging tomato that was just turning orange, hoping it would finish ripening on my windowsill. I estimated that many of the tomatoes were too high for Penelope to comfortably reach and I left the low hanging fruit as an offering. You take the low, I’ll take the high, and we’ll both have tomatoes for breakfast.
Is it a deal, Penelope?
Note: That book I mention is How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynn Cherry which I’ve used with students when we talk about food from farm to table.
This story is offered as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge at the Two Writing Sisters site. Join in the storytelling!