I love Tommy Toes. My beloved’s name is Tommy, too, but I don’t think that has anything to do with it.
He plants them just for me every year. For the last nine years, I have struggled to walk all the way across the yard to get to them. I can walk just fine; I just had a hard time getting around to it. This summer, he planted them by the back steps. It was perfect! Like manna from heaven, every morning I gathered a large bowl of tiny round delights-enough for one day, without making blisters in my mouth.
Tomatoes have such cool names. Many of them start with B’s. Best Boy, Better Boy, Beefsteak and Brandywine are just a few. But there is also a German Johnson tomato I’ve grown to love and of course, Heirloom. This year, the Tommy Toes my beloved planted were called Super Sweet 100’s. They were the best ones ever. (He says I tell him that every year, but this time it was for real.) I ate them every day, moaning at their deliciousness.
Everything was all well and good…until the snakes came. (I hate a snake!) The first one was just outside the gate. Katie grabbed the shotgun and killed it without even flinching. (I was so proud!) Then every day, another appeared and was killed-seven in all. It was terrifying! I was understandably horrified!
My Tommy Toe plants fell over around that time. I didn’t look forward to my daily gathering. I was scared to reach in to get the Tommy Toes because I just knew a copperhead would wrap around my arm and sink in its deadly fangs. I could picture the whole thing…I would scream first, then have to cut it with a knife and suck the poison out like in the old movies. Wait! I don’t think they do that anymore. Then, I’d scream for help while my organs started shutting down as the poison seeped through my body. Isn’t that what happens from a snake bite? (I have a great imagination.)
On the days I did go out to gather Tommy Toes, I slowly edged around the plants like a ninja assessing his enemy. (It was probably more like a Sumo wrestler.) I was sure my neighbors would think I was crazy or on something if they caught a glance. Never mind them, I was watching for a snake! I didn’t want one of those copperheads attacking me before work…or after work, either. The stinkin’ snakes took my enjoyment away and replaced it with fear. Soon I didn’t even go around the Tommy Toes plants at all. They were full and inviting, but I was too scared!
There’s something you should know: the snakes that had been found weren’t even in my yard. They were killed 15 miles away in an environment not at all like my yard! I had let something that happened to someone else, somewhere else make me afraid!
Do you ever do that? Do you let things that happen to other people creep in and steal your joy, replacing it with worry? Has someone else’s illness, problem with family or child, marital problem, loss of loved one or unemployment become your new greatest fear? Why do we do that?
The Bible says it’s devil doing what he does best. John 10:10 tells us: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy…” It’s totally true and it all began with another snake in a garden (Genesis 3).
I lost quite a few tomatoes over copperheads that weren’t in my yard. The snake never came-praise the Name of the Lord-and the worry wasn’t necessary. But it has opened my eyes and taught me a lesson. I don’t need to be fretful about what “snakes” or troubles that might happen, I just need to focus on today. Matthew 6:34 says: ‘…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Also I think of 2 Timothy 1:17: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” That’s one of my favorites.
With God on my side, I can face anything that comes my way, whether it slithers or not!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.