Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Watermelon Wednesday

Plank. Plunk.  Plink. Tink. Thunk.  Thuuuunk.  Treading carefully and repeatedly bending at my waist in the massive maze of vines, I channeled my gardening ancestors and plunked each globe-ulacious fruit, listening carefully for the deep base note that signifies maturity.  Of the most contralto, dullest-toned specimens, I examined each vine for drying of the opposite ancillary tendril and carefully rolled each large melon over to examine the extent of the bleaching or yellowing of the ground contact area.  Finally, offering an unwhispered prayer to the melon gods and dancing the melon-growers boogie, I chose what I believed to be the most ripe, the most worthy specimen, hefted it onto my shoulders, and began the long climb up the hill to the kitchen.

I always find it difficult to determine when watermelons are ripe.  Cantaloupes are easy, falling from the vine into your arms as they ripen, but watermelon selection is an art, a fine skill known only to a few, with secret gestures and a separate language to enhance its mystery.  A single solitary melon, alone in a garden, is a time-bomb with no clock, a conundrum complicated by lack of peers for comparison.  A covey of Citrullus sp, nay a horde of them, presents an easier path, a symphony of notes out of which one need only pick the bassoon from the clarinets and trumpets.  A solid yellow bottom on a melon is as indicative of readiness as the scarlet hindquarters of a mandrill and suggests similar ripeness.

I cheated this year, planting two 'Crimson Sweet' seedlings from a local market rather than growing my melons from heirloom seed and nursing them through their infancy.  Perhaps because of that shortcut, or more likely because of the steady rains this year, I've got a melon patch that is overtaking the garden, smothering first a 'Brandywine' tomato, then the jalapenos and salsa peppers, and now engaging the main body of the tomato army.   The massive leaves hide over a dozen melons, with six of the latter as large or larger than this first 36 lb giant.  Thirty-six pounds of dead water weight that I carried in a single rush up the hillside to deposit, the provider home from a successful hunt.

Cleaving it, divulging its secrets, I presented Mrs. ProfessorRoush with the reddest, sweetest, most watery treat known to mankind, a praiseworthy pepo portending pleasure.  The perfect mesocarp and endocarp exposed, we have gorged for days on this single specimen, groaning in gloom at the thought of tonnes of melons yet to cross our palates as September saunters on.   Others, friends who will soon avert their eyes and cross the street to avoid us, will benefit from the bounty as we become oversatiated and tired of the taste of melon.  Only the coming frosts will save them, and us, from overfrequent urination and sugary slumber.  Only thoughts of coming winter remind us, and them, to treasure this nectar while we can, to celebrate liquid lushness in the waning days of summer.

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