To paraphrase a friend's message on Facebook:
"Summertime and the menu is sublime."
I had a vivid dream a few nights ago. Susie and I were in Florida slurping super sweet, overripe oranges as the juice dripped from our chins.
Suddenly, I told her I needed to rent a car to get back to Huntington. "West Virginia tomatoes are ripe," I said as we hurried out the door.
I love West Virginia tomatoes. No other tomato tastes like them. Not even New Jersey tomatoes, which are good but not as good as West Virginia tomatoes.
A few of my Facebook friends tell me they have already picked a few ripe tomatoes from their gardens.
And half-runner beans will reach their peak in a few weeks. Some say they originally came from a garden in central West Virginia. They are ambrosia.
It's time for both of these veggies and more, much more, to show up on our tables. West Virginia gardens are ripening and soon we'll all be eating graveled potatoes cooked in half-runner beans with a side of sliced tomatoes and sliced candy onions, cornbread and iced tea. (Don't know what graveled potatoes are? Look it up on the Internet.)
As my friend, the late great singer Molly O'Day, used to say "You can't sit still and eat that."
Facebook is already full of gardeners boasting about their gardens. Mack Samples, my friend from near Morgantown, already has posted a picture of his potato patch. He said last week his string beans will probably be ready for picking this week.
I fully expect my local Facebook gardening friends to be posting pictures of their ripe tomatoes soon. Friends farther south have already posted homegrown tomato pictures.
A few farmer's markets already have opened around the Tri-State. The Cabell County farmer's market will open Saturday on West 14th Street behind the Wild Ramp. It will be open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until the farmers have sold all their vegetables.
Believe me, most of the fruits and vegetables sold there are top quality. And if you want something special, such as a bushel of beans or tomatoes for canning, you can deal with the farmers.
I used to garden, but, unlike my dad, I gave it up when my health declined. Besides I am overwhelmed by deer, something my dad didn't have to worry about. They spend hours eating grass in my two-acre yard and soon the does will be bringing their fawns to show off.
I remember the days I lovingly cared for the tomato plants in my garden, feeding them the right combination of fertilizers and minerals to prevent blossom end rot and blight.
And I remember how proud I was when my neighbor, Rufus, a lifelong farmer, told me I had the finest potato patch he'd ever seen. I thanked him and graveled some potatoes for my friend.
I miss those days, but I won't miss the succulent vegetables that Mother Nature gives us each summer. Thanks to the farmers in the region, I'll soon be eating the vegetables that make it summer in West Virginia.
Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.