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A Summer Delight

Our grocery stores have access to fruits and vegetables the year round now, but the taste and quality is sometimes “hit or miss.”

I guess I was spoiled growing up on a farm and having access to a garden that was full of peas and butterbeans, okra, squash, and homegrown tomatoes. I didn’t mention the field corn because that wasn’t a part of the garden. Field corn was all over the place!

We might have had a few hills of watermelons, but not too many. That’s a fruit that we didn’t grow, but it was a summer delight to get a watermelon.

Watermelons are one of those fruits that can be bought year round, but, as I mentioned, one has to be careful. It’s best to buy them in season.

During these few weeks, there are many trucks that have some watermelons on the back and I am tempted to stop at them all. Most of them are of the round and seedless variety and I appreciate the convenience of not having to spit seeds.

But, my favorite watermelons are those long, big ones that you might find at a produce stand, like Long’s “You Pick Em” out on Blackjack Road. There is also a produce stand in Sneads, Florida, where I stop on my way to or from Panama City.

A few weeks ago, I had no intention of stopping until I saw a pickup truck with its body filled with the Jubilee variety of watermelon. They had not been unloaded so I knew they were fresh from the field. I wanted one.

“How much are the melons?” I asked. “Six dollars,” she replied.

I picked up some homegrown tomatoes and said, “I’d like one of the melons.”

I asked the grower if he would pick me out a good one and he said he would. He thumped one of the biggest ones and said, “That’s a good one.”

I’ve always wanted to know what that thumping was all about. Some people thump with their middle finger and others simply pat the melon with a full hand, but they hear something that I don’t. In the stores, I may thump a watermelon, but I’m just showing off, if you know what I mean. I have no ear for the thumping of a watermelon.

Out at Long’s the other day, I asked the lady who was helping me what she thought about thumping watermelons.

“I don’t know all that much about thumping, but my daddy always told me to feel the ridges of the melon,” she said. She showed me the underside and asked, “Can you see those ridges?” I could.

“Daddy always said when you can feel the ridges, it’s ready.”

The melon I bought was big and heavy and it reminded me of the one day during my youth that I worked in watermelons. I always tell people that it was the hardest field work I ever did.

During the summer, we always had plenty to do, but a friend of mine asked me to help them in watermelons. It would be an easy day he told me. “We’ll just drive the tractor and pull the wagon while others load it up with those big Charleston Greys.”

Long story short. We started at 6:00 in the morning and my fanny never felt the seat of a tractor. I was on the ground throwing up 40 pound watermelons all day. All I had for lunch was a banana sandwich and I don’t even like banana sandwiches.

When they dropped me off at the end of the day, they asked, “What about tomorrow?”

I told them I had to pull the weeds out of the peanut patch. Some choice!