In my world, certain foods connote certain feelings or memories.

When things are spinning out of control, a grilled cheese feels like a warm hug. Missing Grandma? Apple pie. And who doesn't turn to chocolate in a time of need? But this week, I finally got a taste of summer: The first two grape tomatoes were ripe for the picking.

The glee of seeing the first fruits of my labor never gets old. Is it wrong to get excited over a couple of grape tomatoes and bell peppers? Perhaps. But when gardening isn't second-nature, so to speak, even the small victories are worth celebrating. Now, after a confusing start to the gardening season, the herbs are being incorporated into meals (although my basil is really pale this year), tomatoes of all varieties are waiting to turn, zucchini plants are ready to take over the world and the Brussels sprouts are starting their ascent. The weeds are also doing very nicely, thank you very much. Aside from the birds always beating me to the strawberries, it's shaping up to be a good year. The key will be to hold my enthusiasm throughout the growing season. I can't be the only one who sometimes feels like quitting by the time mid-August rolls around. By then I've had plenty tastes of summer -- more BLTs than a person should ever eat, sweet corn for every other meal, cucumbers garnishing anything I can think of and zucchini, well, everything.

But come fall, the tastes of summer give way to the tastes of fall: squash, apples, pumpkins ... and the cycle continues, with little bursts of excitement with each growing milestone.

The more I think about it, gardening is like seasonal parenting -- you start out with a seed or a young plant, give it food, water and a lot of attention, and finally it blossoms. And although it seems like a lot of work, the end result makes it all worthwhile.

Are you an emotional gardener? What tastes like summer to you?