Sunday, October 14, 2012

Notes on a Watermelon

When I was little, my dad would shake salt over his watermelon smile and eat it. I used to think that was weird. Now, I do the same thing, a shake of crunchy sea salt against the explosion of hundreds of juicy, sweet cells.


I cut this last melon from the vine yesterday. I could tell it was ripe because the tendril closest to the fruit had browned, and the fragile rind was so tight that if I thumped it too hard it would break. After brushing off the dirt, I tucked it under my right arm, left the fenced off garden, and fended off a very curious dog as I carried it to the house. So heavy, like a small child, but without any arms to cling back to me. I thought about how difficult it would be to a farm worker, carrying the large fruit one at a time to a harvest trailer, how much strength and endurance it would take.

Inside, I weighed the fruit: eighteen and a half pounds. Since the end of May, I have lost twenty-two pounds. Carrying this watermelon to the house told me how much stress that weight had been putting on my body for the decade and a half I had been carrying it.


Last year, I grew a variety called Orangeglo that I ordered from a Seed Savers member. Though the fruit was orange-fleshed, and it was good, it wasn't what I had read the fruit would be. This year, I grew Orangeglo I ordered from a different member. And this year, it is the fruit that I had dreamed of: crunchy and refreshing, large enough to share with many and so juicy.

The seeds are tan with dark, charcoal-colored shoulders and edges; they're buckskin seeds.


Though last school year was so tough it made me question my career choice, this year has begun so well. My students are kind and funny people, people I want to see each day, and that makes every day better. They've been good days, but long and busy—I'm behind on every other part of my life. 

Today, when I should have been grading, I tried to catch up in my garden. I planted the garlic into the big bed I had prepped for it last week. In another bed, before I amended the soil with composted manure, blood-and bonemeal, then planted it full of brassicas, I pulled all the old squash and melon vines. It had been a bad year for squash, but it had been a very, very good year for melons.