A few weeks ago, while visiting one of our favorite booths at the local farmers market, I was delighted to see a basket full of just-picked vine-ripened tomatoes.  Because I avoid buying what passes for “fresh” tomatoes in the supermarket (which are almost always a pathetic shade of washed-out pink with a mealy texture), I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into one of these beauties.

As I held one, I was momentarily transported to a different time and place… standing at the edge of the garden with a couple of my friends, holding a saltshaker in one hand, reaching to pull a tomato off the vine with the other hand.  All these years later I can still feel the pure bliss of taking one bite of the tomato then adding a bit of salt to enhance the next one.  My mouth waters in anticipation of the smooth skin, the perfect texture, the hint of sweetness that tempers the acidity.

Isn’t it strange how something so small can reignite such a vivid memory?  The experience that seemed insignificant at the time, so much so that I took it for granted and allowed to languish in the cobwebs of my mind.

I’m glad that I was able to remember those care-free days in the tomato bed.  That memory sparked a sense of awe and wonder for the capacity of the earth to produce exactly what we need to sustain life.

But alongside that awe and wonder is grief – grief for what we’re losing as climate change speeds up exponentially each year.  As I write this, a hurricane is forecast to hit Los Angeles – which almost never happens. Wildfires continue to burn on Maui and the water temperature off a portion of the coast of Florida reached triple digits last month.

Here in Vermont, clean-up continues from the extraordinary torrential rains in July.  Persistent rainy days have made recovery from that storm slow and difficult.

I recently chatted briefly with a local farmer who, when asked how she was doing said that she’s getting discouraged.  She’s losing a hefty portion of her vegetables – her livelihood – to rain and hungry animals. Her comment made the corn I had just purchased from her seem that much more precious.

I am privileged to know Gus Speth, an environmental lawyer, professor, author, and poet, who famously said, “I used to think the top global environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address these problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need a spiritual and cultural transformation…”

I’ve been thinking about his words a lot lately.  Facilitating a “spiritual and cultural transformation” is no small feat.  Yet, I think it’s roots may be small (and personal).  This transformation needs to be rooted in our hearts.  It needs to be rooted in love for the earth and of our families and communities.  After all, we’re hard-wired to tend and protect what we love.

And so, back at the farmers market, I made my selection, paid the farmer, and reveled in the thought that my first BLT of the summer was just minutes away.  My heart swelled with gratitude for this gift of the earth and for those who tended it – from planting to maturity to market.

Alongside the gratitude I felt was hope that we will have the collective will to take the actions that will mitigate the damage already done to the planet, no matter how difficult they may be.

In the end, I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have the opportunity to stand in healthy, flourishing gardens with their saltshakers, feasting on earth’s bounty straight from the source.