My garden has been a little neglected of late.
The tomatoes are a jungle
that has made passage down the rows nearly impossible.
I go out to pick ripe ones, and I find them.
But there are clusters in the middle whose flashing red is beyond my reach.
The large leaves of the suckers obscure my view,
and the spiders have wrapped webs around the thick growth in the center
that makes me loathe to reach in to grab some.
I planted tomatoes because I love tomatoes.
I want to eat them, not let them go back to the earth.
So I recruit my husband, and together we begin to cut.
The goal is to make the fruit reachable,
to give ourselves a clear view,
and to trim away what only drains resources,
complicates the purpose of the plant,
and causes good fruit to go to waste because it cannot be seen to pick.
I saw a news story today that set my mind thinking about cutting back, too.
A sheep was found in Australia who had never been shorn.
It looked like a tribute to Twinkies.
A good shepherd shears his sheep, cutting back that heavy wool,
freeing it to walk and to live.
A sheep that is never shorn is wasting its energy, and getting far too hot.
And a good gardener cuts back even green growth.
A local farmer was talking with me several weeks ago,
and I asked him why the neighbor's apple tree (which overhangs my garden)
was throwing its apples into my garden before they were ripe?
He asked me some questions about the tree, the way the fruit clustered,
and the state of the apples that fell.
Then he told me there were too many apples.
They were crowding each other.
He said that if we were to carefully twist off every other apple,
the apples that were left would grow large and healthy.
That was something to think about.
Twisting off healthy fruit for the sake of healthier fruit.