After a mild springtime storm, as her mother watched from behind the kitchen window, a young girl with a long blond ponytail sat on the first step for the home’s back wooden porch. She slipped on her rain boots over her colorful socks. She forged into the sun splashed backyard, and down a moist dirt path into the family’s lush green garden while clutching her empty pale.
She bent down, and disappeared beneath the dense foliage to carefully inspect the twisted, interlocked life sustaining vines, and then after careful consideration she plucked a rosy red tomato. As instructed by her mother she held the tomato fruit to her nose and enjoyed the earthly fragrance born from a single seed buried within warm, fertile soil, before she carefully placed it into her bucket.
Unaware her mother watched because she was told never to look back, only go forward because she had to trust her instincts. So, she had learned how to harvest and how to keep seeking another ripe tomato until her pale was almost half-full. And her mother had taught her to think ahead and always to remember to leave the not-quite-ripe tomatoes behind for another day. Then she returned home to show her mother the tomato’s she had chosen. Her mother was pleased, and then her mother held her little hands to show her how to wash each tomato. And her mother showed her different ways to respect each tomato that nourished their bodies.
Each season she and her mother would slip on their farming boots over their colorful woven socks. Colorful woven socks that her mother had crafted during the winter time just before she started to prepare the tomato seeds after the last spring frost. And she and her mother would march out into the cold air and her mother would show her a sunny spot to prepare the soil for future planting.
As her mother tilled the soil with a hoe, the little girl pranced over to hug her mother’s legs. “Thank you for my socks, it’s cold, but my feet feel warm,” she said. She giggled and gazed with wonderment up at her mother. She bounded forward and inspected her mother’s work.
“Whenever you wear colorful warm socks,” her mother said. She smiled down at her, but continued to prepare the soil. “Remember, I made those socks especially for you, and as you get bigger, I’ll keep making you socks, I promise.”
“I’ll always keep them,” she said, “safe in my room, I promise.”
“My child, someday I will show you how to make your own socks,” her mother said. She opened a small fertilizer bag, clutched a few grains and tossed them evenly across the soil. “See how I did that, now we add the smelly stuff, till this all together, and give it a good bit of water and we wait a few weeks.”
“I like planting tomatoes, they make me happy,” she said. “Will we always plant them?”
“No, someday you’ll have to plant them by yourself,” her mother said. Then her mother paused, and gazed across the nearby fields bisected by wooden plank fences. She stopped working and leaned her face on her gloved hands atop the wooden handle. Then she bent down and she hugged her daughter. “Someday, you will be on your own, and you will have to be a big girl and take care of yourself, that is why I want you to learn to grow your own food, and whatnot.”
“Ok, I promise I will,” she said. And she hugged her mother around the neck.
“Good, I have a secret that I will only tell you,” her mother said as a tear appeared and slid over her smiling lips. “It will be our only secret, okay?”
“Okay, but you told me secrets are bad,” she said. She confusingly stared into her mother’s eyes.
“This will be our only secret, it is the same secret my mother told me,” her mother said as she tightly hugged her child. “I will teach you everything I know, but someday you will be on your own. If you feel sad, no matter where you are, I want you to promise me that you will put on the last pair socks I make for you.”
“I promise,” she said.
“Good, because just as your father and I made you from love,” her mother said. She wiped away another translucent tear. “I lovingly wove each colorful strand to make your socks. Always remember within each strand I left behind my heart, within each strand I left behind my wisdom, within each strand I left behind all my love and hope you will live a long, happy life.”
“I love you,” she said as she stomped her boots into the loose soil while inside her socks she was crossing her toes trying to feel the warm strands. “I can feel my socks, but that’s not a secret.”
“I know, but someday you might miss me, so the secret,” her mother whispered. “All you have to do is put on your warm socks, bite into a ripe tomato and remember me hugging you, right now.”
And the little girl smiled and she laughed. “That’s not a secret,” she said.
“Yes it is, you’ll see, someday,” her mother said. “And I’ll be with you, hugging you from your toes all the way up to your smiling face, and you’ll always know you are unconditionally loved.”
And as the little girl grew to be a woman, and lived a full life. Whenever she wanted or needed her mother, she would slip on the last pair of colorful warm socks her mother had made for her. She would savor a harvested tomato, and she would smile with her eyes closed because she felt her mother’s hug.