These are truly the last of the tomatoes. The cold has made them a little shriveled, but it is a miracle to be finding them at all at this late date. They have hung on and on. The leaves on the trees seem reluctant to fall this year, too. On my street, there are trees still wearing the green of summer, although it seems a bit faded now and certainly out of place, like a woman going out to shovel snow decked in a summer sun dress. There are small forests of oaks in reddish-brown, with pounds of leaves still high overhead. We have raked away the obedient ones that kept to the assigned schedule. But the recalcitrants remain firmly fixed to their branches, hanging on tight. It will snow on them soon. They will be weighed down by ice, rattled by the cold wind. They will put a heavy strain on the limbs and there will be damage and loss as a result of their stubborn persistence. They should have let go a long time ago. And I wonder a little what will happen next spring when it is time for the new leaves to sprout. Will the old ones still be clinging to the branches, blocking the emergence of the new? Will the refusal to let go of what has become old and faded distort what might have been?
It is easy for me to see how out of season the tomatoes and green leaves are -- harder to see what hangs on in my life until it threatens to become a liability. That which is fresh and green, with the sweet taste of new, is so hard to let go, even when it has become faded and shriveled, even when its time has passed, even when what has been risks damaging what is and what might yet be. That is true for the garden, for the trees, and for my soul.