Posts made in August, 2009

Snitched Melon is Always Best

Posted by on Aug 7, 2009 in All things natural, Dad | 0 comments

Summer has always been my fourth favorite season but somehow this particular August has caught me in it’s languid little trap. I realized it finally when I touched the watermelon on my kitchen island with the blade of my sharpest knife. The cracking sound of a ripe and ready to burst melon echoed through the empty room and the smell of it told me everything I needed to know about the taste. The only thing that kept me from cutting off an enormous chunk and heading out to the deck to eat it, juice washing down my face and hands, was the little black dress and high heels I had put on to go shopping later. Perhaps that’s what has got me about summer this year. I suddenly notice that I have had no time to lie back in it’s embrace and enjoy.

In my mind’s eye I see my father in his work overalls and teeshirt cutting into a melon out on the side porch. It is one of the big oval stripy ones with seeds. He cuts off a thick slice and bites into the sweetness. Then turning toward me, mouth too stuffed to speak, he shakes his head back and forth in affirmation of delight. Soon he spits the seeds rapid fire into the green grass and bites again. Like a movie picture going to dissolve, the light slowly fades on the scene and he is gone again, a figment of my imagination, long dust. Then this story comes to mind…

My Dad, age 15, a tall gangly lad, slipped quietly into Mr Johnson’s watermelon patch under the cover of darkness. He moved quickly to pick three of the best melons, one under each arm and one in the front of his bid overhauls…

He stretches out the words and illustrates with a tug at the front of the freshly ironed dark blue ones he is wearing now. In his poverty ridden childhood they were threadbare hand-me-downs, soft with age…

The melon fit snugly against his chest as he plotted his escape path. Suddenly a noise of cracking branches echoed in the still night air. Knowing Mr. Johnson had a shotgun and might be on patrol, Dad “took off running” toward the dirt road that led home. As he skimmed across the ditch his foot rammed into something big and he fell flat on the muddy bank. The melon secreted against his body smashed, pouring sticky sweetness down his chest. Such was the quickness of the fall he never let go of the other two. Ignoring a muffled grunt from the ground he was on his feet again in seconds making his escape. The next morning, bathed and in fresh clothing, he ventured into the general store bold as brass, despite the fact that Mr. Johnson’s team and horses sat outside. He heard the farmer’s voice raised in anger before he was fully in the door. “Nearly killed me he did, broke a rib I think! Those good for nothing hooligans! If I ever get my hands on that one…”

Dad listened to the back and forth typical of the close rural community, trying to look nonchalant. The truth of what he had tripped over began to dawn on him. It was Mr. Johnson himself hunkered in the ditch watching over his precious crop, shotgun loaded with birdshot. He never got off a single round in the darkness such was the speed and stealth of the accomplished young melon rustler.

The mischief in my dad’s blue eyes had not diminished in the 30 intervening years. The story he told was as fresh as white sheet flapping on an old fashion clothesline on a hot August day. I remember how hard he worked, more than any man I ever knew, but he knew how to sit it down when work was done. Today he would be pleased with me. I’m going to take a lesson from him and sit for a hour in the cool shade, while the watermelon days last.

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