Half empty or half full?

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It’s been a very challenging week; one of those which can beg the question of whether you are a half-full or half-empty sort of person.

For instance, one who might always view the glass as half empty might have concentrated on the 100 degree temperature, the drought stricken grass or crops, or the return of the gnats. Oh yes, they’re back! And no doubt, only a step outside the house at any hour of the day or night would serve to underscore a brutal week, weather-wise.

Then, there is the person who might ask, “Well, whadda you expect from South Georgia in mid-June? The Garden of Eden?” As they say, there’s always one in the crowd who views the glass as half full. Wouldn’t you like to bury them up to their neck real near a fire ant bed? Just kidding.

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So, how do we navigate these summer days when the temps hit the triple digits and the 30 percent chance of afternoon showers has about as much chance as McCain did of being elected? And those blasted gnats are buzzing around and dive-bombing our ears, eyes, mouths and flying up our noses.

There was a song written in 1944 by Savannah-born Johnny Mercer that might give us some direction. In that year, he wrote the lyrics to “Accentuate the Positive.” His friend, Harold Arlen wrote the music. It was written in response to a sermon he had heard. I guess he took the Good News literally!

Where is the good news in a 100-degree day when every living plant, animal and person is wilting from the weather? Shoot, our dog, Little Bit, upon being shooed outside to do his “bidness,” looks back with his sad eyes as if to say, “Dad, I can hold it a little longer.” But, can you hold it until September?

I’ve got a few suggestions and remember, as Bill Clinton used to say, “I feel your pain,” but I am trying to accentuate the positive.

For instance, despite the heat and the gnats, this is the best time of the year for ice-cold watermelon. You might have seen watermelons in the stores for many weeks now, even months. Don’t be fooled by April or May watermelons. They have come from foreign lands, including Florida. One in 10 might be edible.

The best watermelons in the world, in my opinion, come from South Georgia (what else am I going to say?). There’s a saying, “American by birth, southern by the grace of God.” Let me whittle that bit of provincialism down even further. With all due respect to our neighbors, bless their hearts, let me say, “American by birth, South Georgian by the grace of God!”

I know what I’m talking about. I have tried watermelons from other parts of the country. Just recently, I bought a couple down in Florida. I might have gotten the only two bad ones they had, but when I got home and visited a local vegetable stand, then and only then, did I get a good one. I didn’t caress them or thump them either. I used the old, “eeny, meeny, miny, moe; take this watermelon and go,” approach. It worked. The meat of the melon was sweet and firm and good all the way down to the rind. `Nuff said.

Watermelons aren’t the only positive about June. On the way down to the beach a week or two ago, I dropped by a local cooler and got some bi-colored “roas’n ears.” That’s corn, but I’m sure you knew that. It was delicious and, in the words of my family, “the best I ever ate.” I don’t know what it is about this time of the year, but 100 degrees and plenty of sunshine must be pretty good for the corn.

I’m reminded of another vegetable that takes its time, but June is its prime time. That’s good ole, vine-ripened Georgia tomatoes. There’s another crop that we see in the stores all year. They look great, which should be a good lesson for us all. You can’t tell the book by the cover or the vegetable’s taste by its appearance on the shelf.

For the next few weeks, there will be plenty of tomatoes, grown locally, and ripened on the vine and they will be excellent all by themselves or as a sliced, side dish to other June and summer vegetables.

June, with all its heat, humidity, gnats, etc., is the perfect time for a summer delight and staple to the southern diet—the tomato sandwich. The tomato sandwich is very popular and I guess its popularity begins with its simplicity and lack of preparation. All one needs is a loaf of bread, a jar of mayonnaise, some salt and pepper, and knife.

How many midday meals consist of a tomato sandwich and a glass of cold, iced tea? That entire meal can be prepared in less than five minutes and eaten in three. Even after cleaning up the mayonnaise that dripped down to the elbows from the sandwich, one would have plenty of time for a long nap in front of the living room fan.

Or as we did when I was a boy, lying down on the front porch where the breeze might cool a little. The reason we laid down on the floor was that we were too nasty to get in a chair. Plus, it was more comfortable. Ask the dog.

Yes, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. We need a rain to cool things down and, hopefully we will get it in the next few days. But let’s accentuate the positive; let’s take a look at the glass as half full. After all, we do have watermelons, and corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes. Don’t forget, it could always be a little worse. You could have been born in North Dakota!