Green Tomatoes


Oil painting. Cheri Wollenberg.

The last of my summer tomatoes had a stubborn streak. They were staying green.

I brought them into the house recently. Maybe I didn’t want the critters to get to them. Maybe I figured I could have them ripen on the counter at their own speed.

Or maybe I was just tired of the daily watering. Our relentless hot, dry summer carried into September.

My first instinct…the windowsill. Still green.

I moved them into baskets somewhat away from the light source. Still green.

Then I happened upon a tip that suggested putting them in darkness, specifically a brown paper bag.

There are certain gases emitted during the ripening process that, once captured and contained, will benefit the ripening.

It is working.

They are turning yellow, orange, then the desired red. Once in that brown bag, I stopped interfering, and the process evolved in its own time.

We are very much like that.

I have suffered bouts of depression over the years. Words of advice from caring friends and family never worked. Surrounding myself with joy and light didn’t always help. Mostly, the contrast was painful.

At times, we all need to go into that dark place and heal, in our own way, at our own pace.

People will notice. They will worry. They will try to help you to a brighter place.

But it is still our own brown bag.

Let it rest.



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74 Responses to Green Tomatoes

  1. I was given a similar tip about putting green tomatoes in a paper bag with a couple of red ones. They turned within four days. However, we knew someone who made chutneys for a tea rooms and preferred green tomatoes so nothing was wasted and we got the oocasional free cream tea!

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    Darkness has its uses x

  3. Val Boyko says:

    We all need a brown paper bag sometimes Van. Just remember to take it off when you get into the car. Hugs xoxo

  4. George says:

    Terrific advice, Van. We are all different and we all heal in our own way and time.

  5. Sawsan says:

    I’m so with you van, our dark space.

  6. Later alligator, thinking and writing about you.

  7. The V Pub says:

    A wonderful post. I grow cherry tomatoes, so they seem to ripen quickly and I find myself not harvesting too many green ones. As far as the dark places are concerned, most have them, and probably all have some well intentioned people offering not so helpful advice. I use my dark spaces to write, and that helps me extricate myself on occassion. I hope that you are having a wonderful day and that your tomatoes are delicious.

    • Writing has been therapy for me for a very long time. It took this platform for me to start sharing it.☺ Thanks, Rob. And yes, they are delicious, and were worth the wait. πŸ… πŸ… πŸ…

  8. Each of us possess a uniqueness that exceeds our comprehension. This adds to the beauty of humanity. It also adds to the complexity when attempting to understand individual needs. Sometimes we need to do things in life without clearly understanding WHY. Whether it is termed innate, intuition or spiritual guidance it usually provides the solutions needed.

  9. (((HUGS))), Van. I totally understand. I cannot believe how my post today must have really spoken to you. I am covered in goosebumps. It’s amazing how right on my Heart is in guiding me. Take care, dear friend!! And am very happy about those tomotoes!!! …. ❀ ❀ ❀

  10. Erika Kind says:

    That is so true! When I feel sad then the joy can make the sadness even stronger. But looking at the sadness and accepting it makes us look closer to the essence and all of a sudden it dissolves. At least I experienced this too. Btw. a great tip with the tomatoes! πŸ’–

  11. tric says:

    I totally agree. Equally I find that no matter how good or bad my day is I need to open my front door and find time to just ‘be’.

  12. TanGental says:

    Interesting analogy; I’ve never really needed the paper bag but i get fully that some do and that it is best to let them come out in their own time. Understanding that takes time and experience.

  13. Great analogy. Organic chemistry / Psychology. Cool!

  14. You have said such true and wise words in such a simple way, Van. #Respect and love for you… ❀ I feel we all need that brown bag, at some point of life….to bring out the real colour that's within us… πŸ™‚

  15. Debby Gies says:

    Beautiful metaphors Van. I so have to agree, sometimes we all need to go to a secret place and be alone to bring back our color. ❀ (PS once again weirdpress isn't letting me post, so I will try getting this comment through with my facebook I.D. I wonder if the original attempt will go to spam?)

  16. Vinny Idol says:

    This was incredible.Youve just summed up my story for the last year. I love the metaphors. Thanks for sharing.

  17. lisakunk says:

    Analogy is a wonderful teacher. I love this one. I am a firm believer that there’s a time to grieve and be still and rest in the dim light. I’m thinking of another tomato trick we used to keep green tomatoes from ripening so we could have them on into late fall. We separated them and wrapped them in newspaper. I don’t know how it worked but isolation and completely keeping air away from the fruit stunted it’s ability to mature and become ripe. What do you think? I see that as total isolation from peers being too much-cuts off oxygen/care.

  18. Irene says:

    The post is so great! I love it so much:)
    Have a nice day!

  19. We’ve had the opposite in that our Summer has been too cool and wet for our tomatoes to ripen, Van. Same for our Strawberries, although they have all of a sudden burst into life.

    • We are a mix of rain/flooding in some areas of the US, or widespread drought conditions. Would love a happy medium, Hugh. Thanks for the comment. Hope the WP gurus figure out your spam issues. πŸ’–

      • So do I, Van. It’s proving very frustrating, especially given that once WordPress deem a comment as spam, they don’t send you a notification email that you been fished out of spam and replied to. The only way of finding the reply is by checking the notifications box in the top left hand corner of your blog.

  20. lbeth1950 says:

    Or you can make fried green tomatoes.

  21. joey says:

    Nice metaphor.

    I enjoy fried green tomatoes. I get upset when my tomatoes turn red before they grow big as I like.

  22. Laura says:

    This really spoke to me, van. When I’m low I hear “I just wish there was something I could do” from my loved ones, and now that I have kids I understand. It’s brutal to watch them in pain, so I get why they want so desperately to drag me into the light. Your post is a beautiful expression of why we sometimes need our own space to heal. Thank you.

  23. ❀️❀️❀️ Van! You probably have seen this but I hope it’s okay to share here….

  24. Love the analogy and everything about this post! xx

  25. loved your analogy here Van.. glad the tomatoes are ripening .. And yes I agree being in that space I know I have often been.. ❀

  26. Yes. I still have to crawl into that paper bag at times.

  27. Fantastic analogy. There are times I just want to be left alone inside my brown bag.

  28. Beautiful metaphor. My son is now in his brown bag. Tough, for he’s supposed to be in school. Taking him to his psychologist this afternoon, but “fixes” for depression aren’t instant.

  29. Pingback: Medicine Woman’s Larder – Guest Post – Hungarian Nut Rolls by Van | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

    • Thanks so much, Sally. I have found that I do not consider it Christmas until I’ve made this recipe. It is a warm family memory wrapped in a buttery yeast dough. πŸ’– And, my favorite use of those walnuts !

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