Thursday

A Yankee in Watermelon Heaven

 This post is dedicated to my sister Cindy, who loved watermelon as much as I did. July 12, is her birthday. Happy Birthday, Cindy Lou. I miss you.

I’m convinced--when God created watermelon, he had me in mind. 

My love affair with this heavenly fruit goes way back to my life in utero. My mother, six months pregnant and living in Rhode Island, started craving watermelon during the snowy days of December, 1963. Eager to appease his bride, my sweet daddy arranged to have one shipped all the way from Florida. It took a month to arrive and cost $5. That was almost two tanks of gas back in 1964. 

“Did you eat it all?” I asked my mom the first time I heard the story. 

“Every bit of it,” she replied. 

I didn’t ask if she shared. I already knew the answer. 

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Every summer on the Fourth of July we’d have a picnic under the shade of the grapevine. The hamburgers and hot dogs were great (barbeque is a verb in New England), but the crowning glory was always the first watermelon of the season—a big green striper. 

Every year my godfather, who never owned a car in his life, would accomplish the impressive feat of transporting one safely home from the fruit stand in his bicycle basket. 

One year he hit a pothole. The watermelon shifted, and Padrinho crashed. 

So did the watermelon. 

That year it held a position of honor in the center of the table where we kids gazed at it longingly as we scarfed down Oscar Mayer’s finest. 

One watermelon didn’t go far among the 20 or so guests at the picnic, and kids were at the bottom of the food chain. I savored my wedge-shaped slice of heaven as long as possible, nibbling it down to the rind and sucking the juice. 



I remember the first summer we lived in South Carolina. We’d been here a week, and my 15-year-old self was feeling highly skeptical and severely displaced. So far, I’d seen nothing to justify moving 1,000 miles down the East Coast the summer before my sophomore year in high school. But in true Southern vernacular, that was fixin to change. 

Anxious to reacquaint himself with the city he’d left 20 years ago when the navy shipped him North to Newport, my dad dragged us to the grand reopening of the State Farmer’s Market. I was unimpressed. 

It was July, and walking down row after row of pickup trucks laden with foreign vegetables with scary names like squash and okra didn’t do a thing for me. Until I spotted the long line of people queuing up at one end of the produce shed. 

“They’re giving away free watermelon,” I heard someone say. 

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Pulling my sisters along, I craned my neck until I could see a farmer in overalls. He was wielding a sharp knife and sacrificing watermelon after watermelon to the summer crowd. The air smelled like freshly cut grass and sunshine. 

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As I approached the back of the truck to receive my wedge of wonder, a trickle of pink rain spilled off the tailgate and splashed onto my toes. Expecting the token tiny triangle, I was speechless when the sweating man handed me a quarter of a watermelon and waved me on. Staggering under the weight of my wealth, I croaked out a thank you and stepped aside. 

My adolescent transition to the South wasn’t settled that day, but it took a giant step forward. Any city that had watermelon to give away couldn’t be all bad. 

Today, many years later, I stand with the biggest knife in the block poised over a basketball-sized melon. I crack its dark green shell and pink rain again splashes onto my toes. The smell of freshly cut grass and sunshine takes my breath away. 

I don’t know why God created delicious food like watermelon, but I sure am glad he did. I suspect it’s because he’s the type of Father who loves to give good gifts to his children (James 1:17). I like to think that every time he sees me take a blissful bite of melon, he smiles too. ‘Cause that’s what daddies do when their kids are happy. 

For what good gift are you thankful for today? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to comment.


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25 comments:

  1. Lori, I just got back from Romania where the watermelon was plentiful and joyously shared. Thanks for this timely and sweet reminder and spiritual truth! (Great writing, too, by the way :)

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    1. Ahhhhh, you were feasting, Kim. It sounds like the physical food was almost as wonderful as the spiritual food :)

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  2. Loved this story, Lori, and your vivid imagery. Makes me think of my mom and her love of watermelon. :) Sharing to FB.

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    1. We have that in common, then, Meghan -- moms who love watermelon. One time I even made a watermelon cake for my mom's birthday she loves it so much :)

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  3. Lori,

    You are a fantastic story teller. And that is a special art.

    I would say that I am thankful for people such as yourself that can spin an old fashioned yarn and make everyone feel at home.

    Blessings!

    Sue

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    1. Sue, I"m so glad you stopped by to sit a spell :) Thanks for your kind words.

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  4. Lori, this was such a beautifully told yarn. If we were together, we'd probably have to arm wrestle to see who would get the watermelon... Unless you'd want to graciously hand over your portion?! :)
    Thanks for another great post!
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

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    1. Oh my, Mary, that could get ugly. It's a good thing we're separated by cyberspace :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Greetings from Jamaica Lori! First of all thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your comments. They certainly lifted my spirit. I am sorry that you also lost a sister. My Christian faith has helped me a lot as I lost my twin sister and a brother over a period of 3 years. I also lost my father when I was only 13 years old. I love melon! Recently I had a post titled 'Melon Time' on my Creative Monday Blog Hop. I am a new Follower of your Blog. Have a great weekend.

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    1. In light of such significant losses, Judy, I'm thankful for small blessings from God that remind us of his love and presence. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. oh i ♥ watermelon!!

    thanks for joining the FUN FRIDAY BLOG HOP!

    huggies♥
    rea

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  7. Lori,
    Enjoyed your post. Made me hungry for watermelon. Today, I'm particularly thankful for my family who bring me such joy.

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    1. Family is a precious gift, Susan. I agree!

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  8. I'm thankful for friends. :)

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  9. I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven't already this week. Your favorite posts, most popular, recent or new! The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday's at midnight. Followed by (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday! http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/.

    I would be honored if you join us and follow to stay connected Have a wonderful week!

    Hugs, Cathy

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  10. Thanks for sharing such fond memories :)

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing this...I found you over at The Proverbs 31 Wife's linkup party tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Have you shared a story about your sister? I would love to read it.

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  12. Dear Lori
    Oh, how I wish I could send you a crate of watermelons from South Africa. We have plenty of these delicious fruit in South Africa.
    Luv XX
    Mia

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  13. Fun story! Love that about your mom and dad (sending to Florida for the special treat)... So many things I am grateful for. Beautiful flowers, emerald green lawns and blue and white cloud studded skies... Chocolate... blueberries... Discovering new authors and books to love... :) ~ Pam, apples of gold, http://wordglow.wordpress.com

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    1. Pam,

      I'm so glad chocolate made my list. Now if God had only created chocolate covered watermelons, now THAT would be something to be thankful for!

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  14. I am sooooo passionate about watermelon! Loved your post and beautiful photos.

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  15. I like watermelon, but not nearly as much as it seems you do, Lori! ha! And I can relate to learning to live in the south as well. I always wanted to move to Tennessee (where my husband hails from) but when we moved to Nashville years ago, it really was tough for me to adjust. I'm a mid-western girl who grew up in a bigger city, so I couldn't get used to the twang and butchered grammar. :) But they certainly seem friendly in the south. I'll give them that! Thanks for this "watermelon-sized" tale. It truly is a great gift from God!

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  16. Awww...this is excellent! I never thought I could get teary-eyed over a watermelon. You're an awesome story teller...thank you!

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    1. Oh, Sarah, you made me laugh -- what a gift! :)

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  17. I confess that as a kid I hated watermelon. I really couldn't fathom what anyone saw in it at all. And then when I was expecting my firstborn, I had the worst morning sickness...and heard that watermelon aided in that. I was desperate enough to try anything...and I loved it (perhaps hormones?). I L-O-V-E-D it and couldn't get enough...and it's stayed with me. Now every summer instead of ice cream, I load up on watermelon. It really is one of the yummiest vegetables ever...

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