Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Watermelon Season

Today Jim and I traveled across the "Blue Bridge" into Washington to shop at Hayes Produce Market. This time of year the market gets weekly truck loads of Hermiston watermelons, from Hermiston, Oregon. They are vine ripened and are the closest thing to the melons I ate as a child, in East Tennessee......

I can still remember the trips with my family to little makeshift fruit stands, which popped up in the summertime along most two-lane roadways in our mountain community. Back then, in the 40's and 50's, my folks would thump on the dark green hard surface of the melons with their thumb and middle-finger to test for ripeness. After thoughtful consideration, they would chose one to be "plugged." The owner of the stand would, graciously, cut a deep triangular plug from the melon. One family member would give it the taste test and if it was perfect, we would buy it-- if not, we would continue going about choosing one that met our high expectations. Most of the watermelons were chilled on ice in big red, chest-like, Cocoa Cola coolers, so they were still cold by the time we got them home. Back at the house, in 90+ degree temperature and stifling humidity, we would sit in lawn chairs under a big shade tree, cut long thick slices and eat that cold, delicious, scarlet red goodness, spitting the black seeds on the ground, to be cleaned up later by my grandfather.

I can't think of anything more delightful or memorable than those carefree days of summer, a big shady oak tree and a juicy, sweet southern watermelon.

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