This spring I planted a vegetable garden on my balcony--green beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and radishes. At first, everything seemed to be going great. By the beginning of summer, the eggplant was covered in purple flowers, the green beans were starting to grow, tiny cucumbers were starting to sprout, as were a couple of tiny peppers and tomatoes. I was so excited at the prospect of the bountiful harvest to come, the thought of anything going wrong didn't even cross my mind.
However, after a handful of beans had been picked, a couple of peppers, and my first cucumber, something peculiar started happening. Despite the beautifully flowering plants, and no lack of bees to pollinate them, the harvest seemed to have prematurely ended. No baby eggplants ever appeared, the few tomatoes that grew looked as though the juice had been sucked out of them, and all those little cucumbers that had started to sprout just shriveled up and died. It was all very puzzling.
I could see there were a great deal of stink bugs around (they seem to be a plague in my neck of the woods) but I thought they were just a harmless annoyance, certainly no threat to my plants. By the time I discovered they were actually killing them, the damage had been done.
After that, I went after them with a vengeance. Early in the morning and at dusk I would launch my attack, vacuuming them out of pots, off the trellises, and even off the leaves of the plants they had attached themselves to.
Before I knew it, fall was officially here, and even though all hope of seeing more veggies was long gone, I still kept vacuuming up those stink bugs. It had become a ritual of sorts, I guess.
I felt sure it was not over for those tomatoes, and that they would mature just as the new beans had, but days passed and turned into weeks, and still they showed no sign of ripening. And now it's almost November, and the winds are blowing, and night-time frost has been in the forecast for days. Sadly I decided I had been mistaken, plucked them, and tossed them into a brown paper bag.
Anyway, it was time to start pulling the dead leaves out of the pots and start emptying them. My granddaughter and her boyfriend will soon be coming over to help me with that task. Why, Lord, I wondered, did you plant a title in my mind if you weren't going to manifest it? I was so sure it had been you, and now I feel let down. Two tomatoes artificially ripening in a brown paper bag don't count.
And then as I disentangled one of the pots and pulled it towards me, I saw it. The Lord had not let me down after all. He just chose to make it a surprise.