tomato juice

On the farm's to-do list, tying tomatoes never goes away. Earlier in the summer, we planted more than 1,500 plants, all of which are getting taller by the moment. The crew spends long hours stretching lengths of string down the rows, looping it around the stakes that mark every other plant.

When done well, tomato tying looks like a ballet for two. While one person winds the string around the stake, the plant-picker-upper moves to the next section, leans over to retrieve the droopy plants from the ground and lift them just as the other person pulls the string taut under their weight and secures it to the next stake, together forcing the plants into the discipline of the stake-and-string system. Working closely together in pairs, we use the time to have either very deep or very trivial conversations. Sibling rivalries. Coastal preferences. Beloved movies. Good books. Bad jokes. When available, rotten tomatoes are tossed around.

At the end of it all, the plant-picker-upper wears the badge of her work on her hands: a dry, caked-on coating of green film that, when washed off (to the extent that's possible), creates a brilliant yellow foam. Like the color of Mountain Dew. Or caution tape. Who knew?

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