Life Among the Tomato Vines

Life Among Tomatoes
Life Among Tomatoes


Life here at the CowChows is pretty laid back today. The sun is shining; the breeze is blowing; and all God’s children are at peace, at least for the moment.

Gardens are funny things. We’ve got a little plot out back where we planted a small garden just to grow some tomatoes and peppers and squash for the dinner table. We did our best to place it in just the right spot where it would benefit most from the rains and would get just the right amount of sunshine. We prepared the soil; we water it frequently; we’re careful to keep the weeds out and the insects under control. Occasionally, we give it a little boost of fertilizer when the leaves start to look pale. LadyBug even talks to the plants and tells them how proud she is when they bloom and set new fruit. Our little garden does pretty well, and while we haven’t had an overabundance we have had fresh produce on the table all summer.

But then, there’s this other tomato plant. It came up volunteer on the other side of the house. It’s right next to a concrete walkway in hard packed earth; it’s in shade most of the day, and has struggled all summer against creeping ivy and overshadowing shrubs. I haven’t so much as given it a drink of water, and except for pulling off a few tomato worms it has grown entirely on its own. The thing is, this tomato plant is laden with tomatoes that are bigger, more tender and richer in flavor than those we have so carefully cultivated.

So, why the difference? We gave our little garden everything it needed to grow and prosper, and it provided just enough to keep us fed. While the plant on the other side of the house has thrived against all odds and produces an abundance of delicious fruit.

Is the difference due to the struggle? Do we, perhaps, flourish most when our accomplishments require our greatest efforts? Or, do we prosper and flourish most when we allow nature to guide us into the proper circumstances which will enable us to grow?

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Be Careful What You Say

Are you talkin to me?
You talkin to me?

I hope your day is as sweet and rich and smooth as the finest hot chocolate.

Not all dogs are welcome here at the CowChows. Of course, well behaved dogs are always welcome but my bride has a thing about stepping in yard biscuits and I don’t blame her. I’m not too crazy about them myself. So, the other day when a big black pooch came sniffing around for a tree to leave a present under I was all too happy to oblige when she asked me to run him off.

When conversing with an animal in situations like this I usually try to speak to them in their own language. I flirt with the heifers across the fence and I taunt the bull; I chatter with the grouchy squirrels; I try to engage the neighborhood cat; and yes, I bark with the dogs. I have always thought that it was my tone of voice that mattered more than what I actually said.

So, I came out of the door at a run and headed straight for the dog. I went into my best imitation of a badass Rottweiler……WROOR, WROOR, WROOR, WROOR, WROOR. He took off running as I expected he would, and I stayed after him for a ways to make sure he got my meaning. I was about halfway across the yard, still making my point when I apparently said something about his Mother.

He stopped and turned around. He replied with some pretty nasty sounding language of his own, but I was determined to show him who was boss so I continued my tirade. He started towards me and then it was my turn to stop. We stood in the yard for several minutes arguing loudly in Caninian. We took turns advancing and retreating. It finally dawned on me that this was not an argument I was going to win and I was not prepared for a fight. Besides, he was arguing while I was only making noise. So, I gave him one last WOOF and went inside.

Funny thing was, after I quit making noise he left and hasn’t come back. Hope I didn’t make him mad.


Tim Couch

Life among the Trees and Vines

I hope the pleasures of your day blend together like beans and cornbread.

I went for a walk around the place today and as I walked through the trees, taking in the cool winter air and feeling the sun on my face, I happened to notice a vine way up in the top of a walnut tree. It surprised me because while I knew the vine was growing there I wasn’t aware how high it had climbed. Either it was always obscured by the leaves of the tree, or perhaps I just never bothered to look up. The tree hasn’t suffered because of the vine, probably it isn’t even aware of it. But just by being there, by standing strong and tall and straight, this tree has enabled a spindly little vine to climb higher than it ever could have climbed on its own.

The tree was only doing what trees do, and the vine merely accepted the opportunity to climb the tree because that’s what vines do. Doing what comes naturally and accepting the opportunities that the Universe presents. Maybe, I thought, life isn’t supposed to be any more complicated than that.


Tim Couch

Old Shoes and Stew


I hope your day is like a perfectly seasoned stew.

Speaking of stew, life is good here at the CowChows. We do our best to keep the heat at a gentle simmer; we occasionally add a new ingredient; we stir frequently, and season and taste often; and when it threatens to boil over we make adjustments as quickly as possible. The recipe may not suit everybody, but we love it.

I find myself in a bit of a quandary and I’m hoping you can help. I have these shoes and I can’t decide what to do with them. I dearly love these shoes. They are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn and they have served me well for years. A while back, I took them in to have another half-sole put on. When I went to pick them up my shoe guy told me this was the last time. He said he had done all he could, that they had out-lived their usefulness and not to bring them back again.

Always before, as soon as I got into the car I changed from whatever I was wearing into these shoes. But, not this time. I sat them on the passenger seat and looked at them. My faithful old shoes were at the beginning of their last life. I couldn’t decide what to do.

On one hand, I could wear them and take pleasure in the comfort of them as I always have. In which case, they will be completely worn out in a matter of months and that will be the end of them. On the other hand, I could set them aside and only wear them occasionally while I try to break-in another pair of shoes. But, that seems hardly fair considering the years of service they’ve given me. I know they’re just shoes but they do have soles, or at least half-soles. Don’t they deserve some consideration?

So, you see my dilemma. Do I use them up in the design and purpose for which they were made, and then move on? Or, do I place them on a shelf where they will last forever, but serve no purpose? Any advice would be appreciated. My feet are getting cold.

Happy birthday to Brothers George Washington and Paul Wilkerson, Jr.

Until next time, may the Light of your being guide others safely through the storm.

Fraternally yours,

Tim Couch