Sun-ripened tomatoes in February?

20 Feb

I live in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. I know a bit about gardening, a bit about seasons and the earth moving around the sun, a bit about generations and a bit about trends.

And while I jus’ luvs me our new president and feel he is, indeed, The Man for the Times, I do wish he had the strength and fortitude to say, “I’m sorry, there isn’t going to be any “stimulus” package now because 1) we don’t have it and 2) it won’t do us much good.”

While many have their squibbles and squabbles about said “stimulus” package, I have my own version of them, and it’s this: You can’t grow fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes in winter. As a matter of fact, not much of anything green and edible grows in winter. Why? Cuz it’s winter. And winter has a different purpose and part to play in the cycle of life.

Winter is when it’s time to conserve energy; stay close, warm and huddled with family and community; fix broken tools and maybe even make some new ones. In Nature, winter is when plants pull deep nutrients into their root systems, preparing for the spring. (That’s why the time to fertilize many trees and shrubs  is in the late fall. To fertilize a shrub in the summer would be disruptive to most shrubs’ systems.)

See, in generational theory, in every Fourth Turning, it’s Society’s Winter. In “winter,” the Prophets (Boomers) are moving into elderhood; the Nomads (GenXers) are moving into midlife; the Heroes (Millennials), into young adulthood; and the Artists (Homeland Gen) are being born into childhood. In winter, all energy is about survival of the tribe (understanding some won’t make it through), placing the values of community over individual needs and making tough decisions so that there is, indeed, a future for The All.

Winter is not a time of harvest; harvest is the energy of Fall (1984 – 2005/6). Nor is winter time for the carefree days of Summer (1964 – 1983) when permissions were lax and worries were few. Nor is it the Spring (1943 – 1962), which started this whole cycle, when the capacity, strength, fortitude and can-do-it-ness forged in the just-prior Winter created the conditions for America to emerge, capable and ready for a glorious future.

Winter is winter.

Treat it otherwise, and there is risk of damaging capacity in spring. Mr, Obama, I know you mean well. I know you have pressures coming at you from all over the place. I know you genuinely want to do good. But your strength as a leader, right now, at this time, is to call a spade a spade and then act into it.

We are in winter, and only in the beginning of what is likely to be a 20-year component of a four-seasonal cycle. Ain’t nothing you can do to get us back to where we were. Why? Because Winter turns to Spring. Winter doesn’t cycle backward to Fall. Your job now, Mr. President — if I may be so bold — is to do your best to lead our country through dark, cold nights so that come Spring (when you’ll long past have been president) we can emerge again for another glorious cycle.

You’re going to have to make profoundly difficult and painful decisions. You’re going to have to let people know that the social contracts and promises offered in and by prior generations cannot be honored. That, together, for the good of the all, expectations are going to have to be adjusted. And that not only is it no longer moral, it’s just no longer possible, that older generations can continue to receive the bounty while passing along the cost to their progeny. A rebalancing, a shifting of expectations, an examination of where we are, who we are, what we are as a country and as individuals is imperative.

And while this may eat at you, and tear at your heart, and how you may not be able to imagine having to make such decisions and speak such words, it is  your job and it is your duty. And the people trust you. And they believe in you. Right now, much of the euphoria may be to hope that you can restore America. But restore us to what? The unsustainable economy of the past 20 years? The expectations of social contracts to be paid upon retirement but no willingness by today’s elder generations to fund even their own coffers when they had the chance? When they were young and in power?

I know you knew this road would be tough. Tougher than most want to believe. And, I offer, it’s tougher even still. For all your capacity — and even if bickering partisan antics disappeared overnight — you cannot grow sun-ripened tomatoes in February in DC. The sooner we all acknowledge that, with you at the lead, the faster we can begin to act appropriate to the season at hand and the faster genuinely effective solutions will emerge.


6 Responses to “Sun-ripened tomatoes in February?”

  1. Chris February 20, 2009 at 9:09 am #


    Excellent post. You hit the nail on the head.

    I’m constantly discussing the idea of adjusting expectations with people at work and I’m shocked at how people react to this. They just can’t seem to grasped the concept.

    To make a long story short, I was talking with a co-worker about individuals that purchase massive houses. My co-worker insisted that it is every individuals right to make their own choices (I agree with him), so if a doctor wanted to purchase a large home than that’s his own choice. What ticked me off was the fact that this is the expectation of a doctor or any other high income individual. Why does that have to be the expectation? Why does it have to be the norm?

    Anyway, my co-worker could not see my point and did not want anyone to tell him how to make his choices. Freedom to make your own choices is one thing, but the responsibility to make the right choices for yourself, for your loved ones, and for your country should go hand in hand.

    Sorry this is long-winded. Just my two cents.


  2. HowChow February 20, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    Jessie — You’ll laugh. I like the post, but I actually clicked the link because I thought you were posting about tomatoes, maybe a local place to buy tomatoes in February.

  3. Reiki Red February 20, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    LOVE it! Told so succinctly and accurately. Your analogy is awesome and right on!

  4. Murray February 20, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    An interesting post and I completely understand your sentiment. However, to my way of thinking the stimulus is a necessary evil. Economists are projecting a trillion dollars of decreased demand (spending) over the next year followed by roughly the same after that. Take all the economic problems we have right now and then take out two trillion dollars that would go into businesses and paychecks over the next two years. The stimulus is not intended to miraculously save the economy but to cushion the fall and hopefully pave the way for a less painful recovery.

    Recessions tend to hit the lower income and the neediest people most. The people who are already struggling to hang on. I personally think of people I’ve known including single parents, those caring for elderly, and those with (or spouses with) long term health problems. There were also 1.8 million job losses in JUST the last 3 months. Most of those people are still out of work or have had to settle for drastically lower pay to support their families. Its easy to tell them to just tighten up and deal with it but all the saving in the world wont help you pay the rent if you dont have enough income to actually pay it. Businesses arent rushing out to hire more people right now and you can forget about trying to sell your house to raise capital.

    I do have less sympathy for the many that have made foolish decisions over the last decade. Buying a no interest loan on a house you can barely afford comes to mind. But again, I prefer to think of the MILLIONS of people who cant even afford that first home. I firmly believe most of the middle (and of course upper) class can weather this storm but should we just turn a cold shoulder to the rest of society? Aside from the callousness of it, as personal situations get worse, there will be families that collapse, crime will increase somewhat, and the overall burden on society will grow.

    I feel like I’ve gone a bit off topic as I was looking at another thread regarding the economy before reading this so I hope you will indulge me. I suppose I would like to end by saying I don’t think those involved in the stimulus truly believe the package to be a magic pill to make all our problems go away and return to the mid 80s expansion. However, if we can make a real difference in people’s lives and livelyhood with this money, shouldnt we attempt to do so given the current realities and what seems about to unfold? Its great to talk about the good of all and so forth but there will be REAL suffering and heartbreak by those who least deserve it.

  5. Kiki February 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    Jessie, I really enjoyed reading this post and I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. I wish more people shared your world view. If they did, maybe our country wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in right now.

    LOLing at Howchow! (I had some pretty decent tomatoes from MOM’s last week, but definitely not infused with the flavors of summer.)

  6. Mike Morucci February 21, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Hi Jess–

    Another interesting post! I appreciate generational theory as capturing how times and people change based on their own upbringings and the times they live in. But for me, a lot of it sounds like astrology – an interesting mapping of information but I’m not sold on it. That’s the skeptic in me.

    And business and the economy is cyclical, but I don’t totally buy into the winter theory. I know I feel differently in winter than compared to spring regarding positivity, but Wall Street and American business react on a daily basis. Corporations shed their work force all year long, and it’s about to happen at my office again. We’re just waiting to see who.

    What we spend any of “our” money on will always be up for debate. Do I want to “bail out” automakers? No. Do I want an incredibly large auto work force protected, yes? Do I want to bail out individuals who bought overpriced homes with loans they had no business considering or who counted on equity that was never guaranteed? No. Do I want to keep children from suffering because of the decisions made by the adults responsible for them? O.M.G. Yes.

    Of course those are the easy examples. Not everyone in a housing predicament overspent or used their home as a credit card. They’re just the easier ones to deny.

    Will this package change anything? Yes. Will it meet everyone’s expectations? No.

    Everyone has an opinion of how our tax money should be spent. Education, health care, infrastructure, medical research, etc. Just as one person can say “I don’t want any of this money going to help someone who made poor financial decisions”, another can say “I don’t want any of this money helping someone who made poor personal decisions” (our highways, board rooms and prisons are full of them).

    Another issue is how much is too much? It’s a gray area. How many square feet qualifies your home as excessive? 2,500? 3,500? 5,000? A-Rod’s baseball salary of $250 million is often cited as too much. But it’s not funded by taxes. An IT programmer can easily make six figures (and that often is funded by taxes with government IT and all of the government contractors). But what about teachers? That’s all funded by taxes (non-private schools). Should we encourage and invest more in our teachers than government IT projects? Free-market rates determine who makes what, including executives. Who am I to say how much is too much. But I definitely have an opinion! 🙂

    The only real tax deductions left for people are mortgage interest and donations. Guess where most of the money is going?

    I too was hoping to hear how you grow sun-ripened tomatoes in February. I thought you’d mention a greenhouse window or importing them from a sunnier climate. 😉

    Sorry to take up so much space! I guess I should have just written my own blog on this.

    But I do love the spark your postings create!


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