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Carol Perkins: Watermelon and summer
By Carol Perkins
Watermelon and summer. It is hard to think of one without the other. When I was very young, watermelons took the place of cakes and pies, both of which we seldom had. We had watermelon in the summer and hot chocolate and toast in the winter. Those were desserts and good ones, too.
I never think of watermelons that I don't think of Beech Bend Park. Once or twice during the summer, the family (extended as well as immediate) spread out a picnic lunch under a big oak tree near the river. At the end of the meal, men flipped open their pocket knives and cut large and small pieces of watermelon that were usually placed on newspapers for a quick clean up. The little one would sink their faces into the watermelon, but the men would cut off hunks with their knives. Women usually used forks and tried not to get the juice all over their peddle-pushers (pants).
The bigger boys had seed spitting contests. They would throw their heads to the side and try to sling each seed farther than the last person. Seeds were nuisances to us girls so we flipped them aside with our fingers as if they were ants. Sometimes the boys would throw the rinds at each other, starting a war among the trees. Mothers soon put a stop to that while Fathers laughed at their antics. "Somebody's gonna get hurt," I can hear my grandmother saying as they chased each other.
These watermelons, most likely, were not "store bought" or seedless. Most in the group raised gardens and always planted watermelons at the end of the patch so the vines would not overcome the rest of the vegetables. At picnic time they would go through the garden and thump on several before they found the ripest ones. I still thump watermelons in the grocery store.
Watermelons are still a part of family gatherings. They are the "fly catchers" of the picnic. If you have sliced watermelon on your wagon, the flies swarm toward that end of the wagon. Eating a big juicy piece with one hand and swatting flies with the other is an art. Speaking of juicy, watermelons are 91% water.
Summer means many things, but it is not really summertime until we see trucks overloaded with watermelons going through town or setting up on the square. Until we can go to the Farmer's Market and find "homegrown ones."
It isn't summer until we slice one open over the sink and cut out the heart (that's my favorite part) or slice it into small bites and eat it over the sink, which is what Guy does. Then we spend the rest of the night running to the bathroom! Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind....what was that rhyme?
Carol Perkins, the writer of this popular CM Column, and is co-host of Susan (Susan Shirley Chambers) & Carol (Carol Sullivan Perkins) on 99.1 The Hoss, regularly live at 10amCT, each Tuesday.
This story was posted on 2015-06-25 10:07:44
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