Skip the hearts. Forget the xoxox’s. So much for the bouquet of sweetheart roses. There’s a new bona fide symbol that represents true love.

It’s the tomato.

That red orb of juicy pulp that embellishes the best of things. Without it, there’s no BLT. No gazpacho. No spaghetti sauce. And, at this time of year, no neighborly act of offering a homegrown tomato.

Just the other day my neighbor knocked on my back door, cradling three ripe tomatoes and a cucumber the size of my thigh. His gesture was so sweet I gratefully accepted the bounty and then proceeded to add it to the bowl of tomatoes I had pulled from my own garden.

Looking at my harvest (impressive considering I reaped exactly one tomato last year) I salivated over the prospect of a tomato mozzarella salad and a tomato-stacked barbequed burger. I also considered with whom I could share these delectable fruits/vegetables. A kind of pay-it-forward.

My dad had always planted an extensive vegetable garden and late in the summer he’d bring us a supermarket size bag of tomatoes. Such a delivery feels generous, hospitable and traditional. What else qualifies as all that?

I’m separating my tomatoes now, planning to give some to my mother since no one gardens at her house any more, and to some friends, and to other neighbors who, while lacking a green thumb, nonetheless appreciate eating fresh vegetables.

I’m hoping they’ll feel the love.