Sunday, July 6, 2008
On the way to north Florida this weekend , we traveled a good bit through rural countryside. This is the time of year you see pickup trucks so loaded with watermelons that their exhaust pipes are sending sparks out behind them. The fields and roadside stands are covered with watermelon, too. While they are so abundant, there's something special about a watermelon. I've actually given them as gifts as if they were some precious, exotic fruit only found in far off lands. This attitude must come from my childhood when summertime was magical. It's still my favorite season, by far. Back then watermelon was reserved for late afternoon and always served on a redwood picnic table. The table sat in a shady part of our backyard where we got some relief from the heavy Georgia heat. Daddy would bring out the oblong, rattlesnake patterned melon. He would thump on it to make sure it had that hollow sound that told you it would be sweet. Then he would use a huge wooden handled carving knife to cut it in half. The sugary red punctuated by shiny black seeds would elicit oohs and aahs. Juice ran down the table as he carefully sliced each person a serving. We would all wait our turn and comment on how good this one was going to be. That first bite was the best. Right in the middle. Now the juice and sugary redness was all over our faces. We were not allowed to shoot the seeds at each other at the table; that was saved for later. When all that was left was the green rind, Daddy would take out his pocket knife and slice off a thin piece, then cut"teeth" into the whiter portion. He'd slip this in his mouth on top of his own teeth and give a grin. We'd howl with laughter every time. After we'd shot the seeds at each other and just before anyone got angry about it, Mom would get out the garden hose and give us all an outdoor shower. That cold water was just enough to cool everyone off, so with full bellies and happy hearts we'd sail into evening.