It’s only February but the cherry tomatoes are paying no attention to the calendar. For them winter is a minor interruption of what they were meant to do. There are some especially tiny ones in the bunch today. Even though the plants have been a bit challenged with the cooler temperatures of the past few months, they’ve still been producing some fruit on occasion. There’s been no real frost here in southern California. It’s been a particularly mild winter, so say the locals. So the plants remained busy with their winter work so much so that the entire surface of all the bushes is now bursting with yellow flowers. I expected some flowering. Many of the other flowers in the backyard think it’s spring too. But I didn’t expect to pick nearly a quart of tomatoes today.
And the tiniest tomatoes? Well, I just get a real kick out of them. Ever since I saw the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks, where he eats a miniature ear of corn in big-corn style at a cocktail party–naively holding it with his fingertips, twirling it slowly as he nibbles at it side-to-side–the image has never escaped me. Ever since, when I see tiny versions of larger food, I chuckle. And, surprisingly, as small as these tomatoes are, they are just as sweet as the larger ones that come in the spring. They actually delight me more than the spring’s harvest because it seems to me these plants had to exert an awful lot of energy to produce these little beauties.
It got me thinking… you never know what’s going on inside when somebody appears to be dormant–in the midst of their winter. For some people, it’s when they do their best work. They look forward to winter’s handy excuse to retract from the mainstream and focus on the inner stream… the one that replenishes the soil of the soul.
But if you’re in an off season, if you’re not producing anything at all, sometimes even under a barren surface, progress is being made. Often I feel the past few years are my least productive ever. There seems very little to show for all my efforts at trying to transition gracefully into whatever lies ahead for me. But, if I consider where I was three years ago, two years ago, even just a year ago, it’s clear my sights are set on the skies above and I’m finding my way.
For some, it’s been a particularly long winter. For others, it’s only just begun. Whatever your circumstances, it’s important to do what needs to be done, what you were meant to do. Whether that’s feeding your creative soul, or digging in deep to uproot a gnarled up mess of dead vines before you can produce again.
Whether creating or healing, reflecting or kneeling, whatever you produce–even be it the tiniest of fruit–is as sweet as anything you might ever make from this point on. The important thing is to just keep trying to do what you were meant to… to produce what you can, even when winter is upon you.