In this era of technology computers, e-mails, faxes, text messaging, and other means of rapid communication, it's refreshing to walk out our country lane and discover a real letter in the mail box. Like the handwritten one I received early this spring from sister-in-law Barbara, who, along with her husband, spend their winters in Hawaii.

Barbara writes: "At last today we squeezed out a bit of sunshine, though it has been scarce this entire winter. We couldn't let you have all of the cold."

She goes on to say she keeps track of us in Wallowa County through friends and a son. In a former letter, Barb had written on the back of the envelope: "Ask me about Renee's tomatoes."

And, in due time, I ans wered her a letter, wherein I had remembered to ask about Renee's tomatoes. What was it about Barb's friend's tomatoes? I was curious. Must be something worth telling.

Well, let me tell you, Barb did have a story!

She writes: " Now, about Renee's tomato seeds. One of her little dogs likes to eat tomatoes, so whenever it leaves a calling card, the plants appear, but usually in the rose garden. They are twice-blessed, you might say, and they tell me the fruit is very prolific, huge and delicious. All their neighbors have their hands out."

Listen up, you folks on Imnaha, Renee might have an idea worth pursuing. You could skip expensive fertilizers , just feed your dog tomatoes. Then turn old Rover loose in that newly- tilled garden this Spring.

The possibilities are endless. You could stagger the plantings. Begin with Early Girl, followed by Giant Hybrid Beefmaster, or, perhaps that 80- day heirloom variety, developed in the 1930's by M.C. Ryles, who named his tomato "Mortgage Lifter ." It was so named because these tomatoes were so popular, he sold enough of them to pay off his mortgage.

Then there are other equally interesting varieties: Lemon Boy Hybrid, Hybrid Pink Girl, Keepsake Hybrid,White Wonder, Hybrid Better Boy, and Romas.

Other items in my mail box recently - seed catalogs. Don't you love 'em? My mouth waters just looking at the photographs. Perhaps I'll order some of those tomato seeds. Then I could slip a few seeds into my Halley's dog food, and we could take a trip to Imnaha - maybe visit Lyman Goucher, and his bride Wilma, and maybe they would let my dog leave her calling card. Wouldn't that be something? But then I'm probably dreaming. Imnaha is a great place to grow tomatoes, but the tropical climate of Hawaii is much more conducive to such an experiment.

Oh, heck. It's worth a try!

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