Tag Archives: Watermelon

Watermelon-Eating Essentials

There’s a right way to eat a watermelon. And then there’s the best way.

The right way: demote store-bought melons to chunks on fancy toothpicks or fake-looking balls. Eat in air-conditioned comfort.

The best way?

First ingredient

Order a summer day so hot that gooey blacktop shifts under your steps.

Second ingredient

Our family, uncharacteristically dressed up in this photo, are more at home lounging on this porch — one of the best places in the world for eating watermelon.

Reserve a screened-in porch with adequate waterproof seating for friends and neighbors, because the best watermelon is never eaten alone. Also, never serve it indoors. Irate mothers, who obsess about irrelevant issues like freshly mopped floors, will cut eating sessions short. Watermelon loses its flavor if eaten where consumers cannot also apply sticky juices directly to arms, legs or tummies.

Backyards, decks and parks present good watermelon-eating sites, but flies and yellow jackets — like some human relatives — come whether invited or not.

Third ingredient

Gather newspapers. My family has used these inexpensive, disposable watermelon-eating place mats for generations. If dampened sufficiently, newspapers imprint “City Sewer Plan Stinks” or similar headlines on new white shorts.

Last ingredient (but not least)

Harvest watermelons, bought not from strangers, but grown in one’s own patch — although my late father declared stolen ones the sweetest. As boys, he and his brothers patronized patches owned by Mr. Purvis Williams. Of course, when Dad amazed his Louisiana hometown by becoming a minister, he swore off such pastimes. Having returned as a 79-year-old retiree, however, he celebrated his first watermelon season back home by investigating local patches filled with fat, green-striped orbs almost bursting with juice.

The best patch’s owner: his new pastor.

Dad complimented him on his beautiful melons. The minister promptly invited Dad to help himself.

A Southerner himself, Dad understood the man was being lyin’-polite. Still posing as an ignorant Yankee, though, he took quick advantage. Dad raided the pastor’s patch. Despite tender consciences, we helped him devour the melon one sweltering July afternoon. It rated only semi-stolen, but I couldn’t imagine anything sweeter.

Still, this feast didn’t compare with those of my childhood, when Grandpa iced down a dozen from his garden in a horse trough. The entire family gathered, and every uncle, aunt and cousin received half a melon. After we finished, the adults, anticipating the imminent Watermelon Seed War, banished us kids to the yard, where we discharged our arsenals without harming any adults. Occasionally, a toddler stuck seeds up his nose. Always good for a little excitement.

Sometimes, Dad peeled thin green slices from the rind. Fashioning these into Billy Bob buckteeth, he gave us big, green-toothed grins.

Decades later, after we’d devoured the last luscious bite of his pastor’s watermelon, Dad saved the seeds to plant the next spring.

God help the rascally kid or retired minister who tried to steal his watermelons.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Is a watermelon feast one of your summer traditions?

Summer Questions

On sultry summer days, do you sit on the porch — more likely, bask in air-conditioning — and ponder profound issues?

Me, too.

Skeptics might claim we’re procrastinating. We don’t want to mow or weed the garden for the 500th time. Or battle Japanese beetles that may as well own deeds to our rose beds.

No, I truly look for answers to my questions, including:

  • Unlike highway medians, why can’t our yards and gardens be declared prairie preservation areas?
  • Why would anyone invent platform flip-flops? A friend asks this question daily, as falling off her fashionable footwear put her in a walking boot.
  • My question: why would anyone buy them?
  • When temperatures sizzle, are you tempted to splat and zoom on a Slip ’N Slide®? (Me, neither.)
  • Do others feel embarrassed — and relieved — that their campers include air conditioners?
  • Why do summer mornings smell better every year?
  • Why do beach lovers strip down to strings — some wore pandemic masks bigger than their bathing suits — yet other bathers don more clothing than in January?
  • Why would anybody believe romaine should be grilled?
  • What summer food sometimes outranks (gasp!) ice cream? Though a lifetime addict, I believe on the hottest days, a chilled watermelon slice tastes even better. Besides, I can spit seeds at my spouse.
  • Why does my three-year-old grandson’s face, smeared with blueberries, appear adorable when my own toddlers’ gooey, blue kisses sent me running for my life — and a washcloth?
  • Tarry blacktop conjures teeth-gritting images of road construction. Endless balky traffic. Detours to Timbuktu. But does its fragrance generate positive memories for anyone else? Sweaty bike rides on country roads to a mom-and-pop store to buy icy, 10-cent bottles of cream soda? Or yakety cycling with teen friends to a bookmobile?
  • People are named June and August, but who’s named July?
  • Why do some summer outdoor wedding guests look ready for a Hollywood photo shoot, whereas other perspiring attendees — not me, you understand — look like they spent the afternoon in a dunk tank?
  • Which is best: lightning bugs, glowworms, or fireflies?
  • Why does the ice maker malfunction only when temperatures rise above 90?
  • Ditto for air conditioners. And freezers.
  • Which songs are hummed most during summer: Beach Boys’ hits? The ’50s classic, “A Summer Place”? Or “Summer Nights” from the musical, Grease?
  • While riding in the back of a pickup at 65 mph doesn’t carry its former appeal, do we children of yesteryear miss those wild, warm, nighttime breezes, the lavish, starry show above?
  • Thankfully, we don’t miss out on summer evening scents. Don’t they smell better every year?

Especially when neighbors mow grass. And nurture beautiful flowers.

All while I ponder these profound questions of summer.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What weighty quandaries fill your mind during summer?

Hurray for Bossy Big Sisters!

Bossy Big Sisters often receive bad press, so I am setting the world straight.

My siblings and me in the 1960s.

You think I’ve got attitude? If you’d just listen occasionally, you’d find Bossy Big Sisters can prove very inspirational.

We even find them in the Bible. Few remember Moses’ big sister Miriam got stuck babysitting as Moses floated among the bulrushes. The Nile crocodiles probably weren’t as friendly as those on Animal Planet. Without Miriam’s help, Moses wouldn’t have survived in one piece to receive the Ten Commandments. But when he became a big shot in Pharaoh’s palace, do you think he remembered Miriam gave up Saturdays with her friends to save his hide? No-o-o.

In the New Testament, Martha (last name Stewart?) got carried away, fixing a fancy dinner party for Jesus. Her sister Mary didn’t show sufficient concern about presentation. Jesus had to remind Martha that God really didn’t care about matching napkin rings. On the other hand, if Mary had been in charge, Jesus and his hungry disciples might still be waiting for hamburgers.

Inspired by these Bossy Big Sisters, I shared important medical facts with my younger siblings. My sister would not have known she was born with a brick in her stomach if I had not informed her. Nor would she have realized the dangers of swallowing watermelon seeds. First, I said, green vines would curl out of our eyes and ears. Left unchecked, these seeds might even produce big watermelons in our bellies — either melons or babies, I wasn’t sure. I spat all watermelon seeds off the porch and advised my sister to take similar precautions.

Fortunately, I passed the Bossy Big Sister gene down to both my daughters. The elder educated the younger about shooting stars hovering over a nearby playground. The evidence? Brown rocks, the remains of flaming asteroids, had landed under swings and slides. Little Sis sifted patiently through tons of gravel, spending whole afternoons looking for “shooting stars” while her sister played with friends in peace.

Apparently, Big Sis’s fine teaching qualities rubbed off on Little Sis. She later set up a school for her younger brother, complete with chalkboard, assignments and recess, when she forced him to play outside, whether he wanted to or not. But when Little Bro started kindergarten, he knew how to multiply.

Our children circa 1988.

Big Sis and her husband later supplied our family with an outstanding Bossy Big Sister, who has fulfilled her moral duty in educating her younger brothers. She’s saved them from crocodiles, conducted divine dinner parties with matching napkin rings, warned them regarding watermelon seeds, and locked them outside for recess.

With her fortitude, her little brothers will go far.

They’d better.

Our grandchildren circa 2010.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does your family include a Bossy Big Sister?

Precious Watermelon Memories

Watermelons. Luscious, refreshing and satisfying, they deserve another blog post.

Last week, I shared four essential ingredients for eating a watermelon the best way. This week, I bring one final ingredient to your attention for truly memorable watermelon-eating experiences.

Last essential ingredient, but not least

Watermelons, bought not from strangers, but grown in one’s own patch — although my father, a lifelong expert, declared the stolen ones the sweetest. As boys, he and his brothers patronized patches owned by Mr. Purvis Williams and Mr. T.C. Higgenbotham.

Of course, when Dad amazed the Louisiana town by becoming a minister, he swore off such pastimes. When he returned to his hometown as a 79-year-old retiree, however, he celebrated his first watermelon season there by investigating local patches. One flourished near his old homesite. He hadn’t seen watermelons that good since boyhood, the fat green-striped orbs almost bursting with juice.

The patch’s owner: his new pastor.

Dad managed to steer his next conversation with the reverend toward gardening and complimented him on his beautiful melons. As he’d hoped, the pastor invited his new parishioner to help himself.

Dad knew he didn’t mean it. A Southerner himself, he understood the man was just being lyin’-polite. However, while the pastor still regarded him as an ignorant Yankee who didn’t know any better, Dad took advantage. He raided the pastor’s patch and returned home in triumph with a prize watermelon. My parents and I chilled it ice-cold, then devoured it on the front porch with my cousin Tara on a sweltering July afternoon. I couldn’t imagine anything more luscious.

Still, this little feast did not compare with those of my childhood, when Grandpa iced down a dozen from his garden in a horse trough. By mid-afternoon, when even bees buzzing around the pink crepe myrtle bushes sounded hot and lazy, the entire family gathered on the back porch for a watermelon feed. Every uncle, aunt and cousin received half a melon to munch.

After we finished, the adults, anticipating the imminent Watermelon Seed War, banished us kids to the yard. There, we discharged our arsenals without harming any grown-ups.

Sometimes, Dad peeled thin green slices from the outside rind with his pocketknife. He fashioned these into Billy Bob buckteeth that put the costume-shop variety to shame. Dad pulled his hat down over his ears and gave us big green-toothed grins. We stuffed the “teeth” into our mouths, yuk-yukking at each other. Occasionally, one of the toddlers stuck seeds up his nose, which was always good for a little excitement when things grew dull.

Thirty-five years later, after we had devoured the last sweet pink chunk of his pastor’s watermelon, Dad saved the seeds and tended a prize patch that resurrected delicious memories of past banquets on the porch.

God help the rascally kid or retired minister who tried to steal his watermelons.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What precious watermelon memories come to mind as summer approaches?

Watermelon Essentials

There’s a right way to eat a watermelon. Then, there’s the best way.

The right way involves turning store-bought melons into cute little chunks on fancy toothpicks or artificial-looking balls on a fruit plate.

The best way includes all the proper ingredients for a truly memorable watermelon-eating experience. Here’s what you need to assemble.

First essential ingredient

Order a summer day so hot the gooey blacktop on every street and road shifts under your steps. A day when you envy frogs, who support themselves in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed, yet spend all their time at the beach.

Second essential ingredient

Invite family, friends and neighbors to come savor the delicious fruit because the best watermelon is never eaten alone.

Third essential ingredient

Gather newspapers, preferably none that contain my column.

My family has used these inexpensive, highly disposable watermelon-eating place mats for generations. Diners spread them on their laps, where they spit their seeds. If dampened sufficiently, newspapers also imprint “City Sewer Plan Stinks” or similar inspiring headlines on new white shorts or bare legs. With luck, these remain several days, no matter how hard your mother scrubs.

Fourth essential ingredient

Locate a screened-in porch with adequate waterproof seating for all those people you invited. Watermelon loses its double-impact flavor if eaten indoors, where consumers cannot apply luscious, sticky juices directly to arms, legs and tummies, as well as ingesting the fruit by mouth. Also, eating sessions inside often are cut short by irate mothers who obsess about freshly mopped kitchen floors and other irrelevant issues.

Yes, watermelon tastes best outside. If a screened-in location isn’t available, backyards, decks and parks also present good watermelon-eating sites, but you may as well send invitations to flies and yellow jackets, who — like some human relatives — come whether you invite them or not.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where do you prefer to eat watermelon? And, who do you invite to share the bounty?