"A Slice of Summer"

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Blog Post #14


Watermelon is the epitome of summer flavor, (with corn on the cob and fresh garden tomatoes running a close second and third). As a watermelon was in process of being cut to serve at a family gathering, I heard exclamations of delight centered on the quality of the melon. I turned to see a large, and very fine, deep red melon being expertly carved into chunks. My son and his father-in-law (who was doing the carving) had just tasted the melon and were exclaiming at its amazing sweetness, as well as at my son’s expert choice. I couldn’t wait to taste that melon, and it did indeed live up to its reputation. When I asked our son how he had picked it, he said he had thumped it and heard that hollow sound (which I find particularly illusive). 

Personally, I need someone to publish a book titled “Selecting Watermelons for Dummies.” I’m no good at it. I’ve tried many methods for picking a nice sweet, ripe, juicy, red watermelon, but when it comes right down to it, my chances of choosing well using these methods are just as great as if I play eenie-meenie-miney-moe. Sometimes, I get lucky when I just close my eyes and grab. 

Apparently, my ineptitude at picking melons is emblazoned on my face like a brand. One time, while visiting our daughter in another state, I made a quick trip to the grocery store for a melon. Feeling anxious to make a selection and leave, I stood staring at the display laden with what might as well have been green, striped dinosaur eggs. I began the task of rapping on several melons wearing the quizzical expression that is a staple of my facial wardrobe whenever  I’m baffled: a surefire giveaway to any alert observer that I didn’t know what in the world I was doing.

A happy, friendly, produce man clearly saw an opportunity to display his expertise in the melon department. The eager expression on his face revealed what he must have been thinking: “She looks like a watermelon dunce.”  He was, of course, correct. Kindly, but with an air of superiority, the produce man approached and offered his services in the art of choosing a melon. At first, I was grateful for his help. I knew that if I chose myself, the chances were I would return home with pink, pithy, fruit that tasted as much like watermelon as watered-down cardboard. If someone else chose the fruit, I reasoned, I would not be responsible for picking a blah melon.   

It wasn’t long before I realized my quick trip in and out of the market was going to take longer than planned, for as soon as the produce guy saw that he had the attention of a real novice, he launched into detailed instruction on the art of melon thumping. Holding the melon on his shoulder for the sake of resonance, he thumped it once or twice, his eyes lighting up when he heard the “ping” he was listening for. A consummate teacher, he suggested I try holding a melon while thumping away. I’m not a very big person. He might just as well have asked me to balance an elephant in the same way. But to balance, thump and hear the right “ping” all at the same time was akin to tuning a piano while balancing it on my shoulder. It just wasn’t happening.

Another time, at the check-out counter, the checker took one look at my melon on the conveyor belt and asked if I’d like help picking a better one. Before I had time to respond, she noted the blank look on my face and picked up the melon I had just spent ten minutes carefully selecting via the conga drum method, and disappeared from the register, arriving back seconds later with a different melon. “Look for one with *bee stings in it,” she said. “They’re guaranteed to be sweet. The bees go for the sweet ones.” I inspected the melon and noted the small black specks and scratch marks she pointed out. It was a tasty melon, so I’ve looked for melons with bee stings, but have been hard-pressed to find any since then.


Fortunately, I discovered a method with merit that I actually can use with some measure of success. Of all methods, this has, at last, become the most reliable for me, and easy enough for a three-year-old since the only requirement is knowing your colors. You just roll the melon over as you would a baby, (OK, so a three year-old would need some well-developed biceps), and look for a yellow spot where it sat on the ground. (Not a yellow spot where the baby sat, but a yellow spot on the watermelon where it sat on the ground before harvest.) White means it was picked from the vine while still green , and yellow means it was picked ripe. Easy peasy. Right? Well, maybe. If you’re color blind, you might have a problem.
Yellow spot means the melon was picked when ripe

So, why write about picking watermelons? I don’t know. They’re yummy. I love them. Such a refreshing, summery treat. Obviously, I’m not an expert at choosing them, even though I’ve been instructed by people who claim to have well-practiced methods. Let’s face it—a “ping” to one person may be a “thud” to another. This post isn’t intended to be a guide on how to pick watermelons. But here is one that I found helpful:  

Wishing you a summer of watermelon smiles!

* I’ve also heard the “bee stings” described as sugar spots–where the sugar in a sweet, ripe melon oozes out and creates  beads of hardened sugar.

© Copyright July 28, 2014

Author: cynthyb

Hi! I'm Cynthy, a woman of family and faith who, among other things, loves to write.

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