It is finally that time of year when the first watermelons make their way into the grocery stores. My kids love watermelon for an afterschool snack. I love them to have it because I eat about a fourth of every melon while cutting it into smaller pieces. It is a mother’s job you know!
One would think that watermelons were pretty secure in their little niche of the food chain, but even the lowly watermelon has evolved over the years. For one thing, the price has evolved through the roof. I gasped the entire time I picked up a beauty this morning. Not from the heavy lifting but from the heavy price. I thumped and turned about seventy melons before I found one I thought was worth the price. OK, maybe not seventy, but several.
Another thing I have noticed is that there are not as many varieties as there were when we were kids. I only found ONE variety available this morning. Same ‘ol, same ‘ol. To be fair, it is a little early in the season so maybe others will be displayed at a later date. Also to note, the shapes seemed to have all condensed into a rounded ball shape rather than the longer, oval shapes I remember. Perhaps the smaller, basketball shapes are in vogue because most families are smaller and don’t require so much melon.
The seeded varieties seem to be going by the wayside as well. What a disservice we are doing to the children of America by developing and marketing watermelons without seeds, or watermelons filled with tiny little whitish seeds that aren’t worth SPIT! We had yellow, pink, and red melons all bursting with shiny, black, slickety seeds. We could spit those seeds a mile while the juice dribbled down our chins. Perhaps, the spitting was so delightful because that is the ONLY time a young southern girl was allowed to spit. Truthfully, I don’t even think the new, seedless, ones are as tasty.
However, on a positive note, my chickens did not seem to mind the seedless variety. They thought the seedless rinds to be as tasty and sweet and the seeded ones. Indeed, they clucked, and pecked and talked about each piece that I threw their way. When a large piece burst into smaller pieces, they jumped and hopped around as if a bomb had gone off inside their pen. After a few minutes of clucking and feather fluffing, they eased back to the pinkish flesh sticking to the inside of the rind.
The rooster, standing over an especially juicy piece, gave me the eye and stretched his neck to crow when he saw a hen sneak under him for a peck at a very delicious red piece of watermelon. His head came down in a hurry and he fluffed his feathers at her. She grabbed a piece and ran. He stretched and crowed. Another hen saw this and decided to go for a bite. She grabbed a large chunk of melon in her beak and waddled as fast as she could to the opposite side of the pen. All seven of the other hens chased her, pecking as they went.
Mr. Rooster decided that he was missing out and headed to the back side of the pen. All for a small bite that had already been chewed (or beaked, I should say)! Meanwhile back at the front side of the pen lay six or seven large pieces of rind still covered in pinkish, reddish melon meat. They all chased the hen with the piece in her beak around in circles. She darted around the waterer and they were all inches behind her, never noticing that a veritable treasure trove lay at the front of the pen. She ran back towards the front and several even stepped on the larger pieces on the ground trying to catch her, but they all wanted the piece in her beak!
The more I watched, the more I got tickled. The silly chickens reminded me of some folks I know. They have plenty but if they discern that others might have something they do not have, off they go, chasing someone else’s small fortune while not giving a thought to what they already have.
As summer approaches, and watermelons fill the farmer’s markets and grocery stores, I hope you all remember what fun it can be to spit black seeds from the edge of the porch and that you don’t act like a bunch of chickens chasing that elusive something when your own life is already filled with blessings.