The Horror: Tomato blight, day 2

The blight's characteristic rotted-tie-dye rings.

The blight's characteristic rotted-tie-dye rings.


I’ve been watching too many horror movies, I know. My job is to cut down the tomato vines, one after another, dozens of them. I have to remove the wire hanger they’ve made their skeletons. First I trim around the top, which frees me up to clip the big arms below. It’s like being a barber who starts with a trim and goes on to total dismemberment, like Sweeney Todd sans the artistry. It’s gray and pouring and I slosh around with dripping pants and a quart of rain in each boot, cold, exhausted.

So few tomatoes were salvageable. Often they were like stealth zombie tomatoes, perfect and firm until I spotted a few brown freckles of blight. They would be bitter.

Afterward, traumatized, I came home and therapy-cooked for four hours, invented new tomato sauces. Anything to stop thinking about the great volumes of rotted fruit.

Today will be the third day.

After we pull the vines, hundreds of pounds of tomatoes are still left. All of it must go.

After we pull the vines, hundreds of pounds of tomatoes are still left. All of it must go.

A pile of blighted tomatoes awaits its fate: steaming hot compost.

A pile of blighted tomatoes awaits its fate: steaming hot compost.

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