Tomatoes speak to us about fate— whether it is to bush out upright or tumble headlong over whatever rises in front of you. I always did prefer the tumblers, their abstract sprawl easily bent to my gardener’s plan, the trellis, the stake, the tomato cage. But let an escaped seed take root in the flowers and the vine’s long fingers will feel their way through the peonies, the pinks, the geraniums, leaving clusters of yellow fruit like trail markers in their wake. Now, in the barren February garden, a few frost-rotted vines remain like the stained shreds of a lost party dress. I would mortgage my inner ear, half the colors of my sight, for one ripe August tomato, plucked warm from the plant, brimming with sun and earth and air, sweet-stinging acid on my tongue. Hot house tomatoes inevitably fail to please, unable to counterfeit the late summer alchemy of long days and humid nights, of sudden thunderstorms flinging new-set fruit to the ground. I wish I had put some up, canned or sauced, the way my grandmother would, working in the hot, close kitchen over pans of boiling water, to trap the season’s taste in a jar, imprison the lush red textures behind the glass and line them up in the root cellar where, when she was gone, they remained, sentinels guarding the memory of summer and her hands’ work.