Photo by Peggy Sturdivant
Here's the tomatoes, where's the eggs?

At Large in Ballard: The summer of chickens and tomatoes

Tomatoes are this summer’s zucchini in Ballard. One almost can’t give them away. Meanwhile, the raccoons are feasting on Asian pears and escargots. Fifty-six days without a trace amount of precipitation, a good year for tomatoes. What is the world coming to?

My husband had the nerve to say out loud that I planted too many tomato plants. Yet if I’d planted the same number last year (okay 13 plants) my yield could have been six tomatoes total. When life gives you a glut of tomatoes, there’s only one thing to do: start roasting.

Meanwhile the Asian pear that bore two fruit last year has decided to drop 200 pounds of product onto the patio, with the help of the raccoons who scale the tree by night, dig in their opposable claws and then toss down the fruit. When the raccoons are ready for protein they move to the front of the house and reach beneath the vines on the garage to pluck the largest snails. I would like to see this sight by the Harvest Moon: raccoons slurping escargots directly from their shells. Somewhere along the way they find a source of water that they dirty and then partially dump out. They make sure to leave muddy tracks as their signature.

Martin thought removing the cat’s water bowl from the front porch might deter the raccoons, but I doubt it will dampen their appetite for shellfish or fruit. However, I noticed this morning that the cat was reduced to lapping at water cupped in an upturned leaf. So dainty.

It is also the summer of chickens. I cannot walk a single block in a residential neighborhood without noticing a new flock of chickens. So why do I still have to buy eggs at the store? Shouldn’t eggs be this summer’s zucchini too?

This past summer I have learned that even without a rooster those hens are early risers. Boy are they loud, evidently loudest when they are laying the actual eggs. I wouldn’t know because although I see a lot of chickens, I still haven’t seen a fresh egg. I do suspect a relationship between chicken squawks and those very fat raccoons.

In the last weeks of summer there have been up to 100 small boats anchored just off Shilshole in the early mornings. I count them. I understand those folks are out fishing for silvers now. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a fresh-caught silver either. Just the flash of sunlight reflecting off the boats after the fog has lifted.

The school buses are navigating the traffic circles of Ballard and it will be the last week for peaches from “Bill’s Fruit” at the Farmer’s Market. Soon Golden Gardens will make its annual revelation on why it is so named and those overburdened tomato vines will wither. The Garden Center at Fred Meyer is filled with holiday lights and at Bartell Drugs one would think that Halloween was next week.

Such a rush ahead when all I want is a few more weeks of peaches and a way to eat fresh tomatoes all year long. Would anyone like a trade? Tomatoes for eggs? Pears for fish? I wonder what the raccoons want for their autumn feast? Besides fresh chicken, of course.

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