Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Well, I got called on my last entry when I was whining about the pole beans. Tom, my friend and writing buddy, rather gleefully pointed out that the beans could not "rappel" up the poles because rappel only refers to going down. Well, I was wrong, but I was also right because those beans never did go up the poles; they mae a weak attempt and then RAPPELLED back down to the ground. And although pole beans have a flavor and substance that is so reassuringly beany, we had to stop picking the patch. We did give Tom a chance to pick it, as a reward for his astute blog reading!

We exchanged pole bean picking for melon picking, and that was a pretty good trade! Just as mysterious as the pole bean's inability to climb is the rich sweetness in almost all of our melons this year. The sun, rain, heat and melon fairies conjoined in just the right combination to bring us a bumper crop. Finding that right combination is what must keep farmers, apparently gamblers at heart, coming back each year to place their bets. Some farmers try to figure out how to bystep those unknown natural factors so that the growing process can be controlled, predicted, and packaged. Organic farmers try to read the signs and take what comes. With this years'melon crop, the gamble paid off!

Now we have sort of a reputation among our friends and workers for being extremely picky about what constitutes a good melon. If it's not good, we don't eat it. If it's sort of good, we don't eat it. If it's good but not quite ripe, we don't eat it. If it's ugly or cracked or has a bad spot, but it's good, we eat it! And good means really really good - a sweet and clean flavor that is the essence of the fruit in its perfect ripeness.

We were eating one of our watermelons the other day and Ken said, "This tastes like a popsicle!" It sure was sweet and refreshing. It took me back to a summer day years ago when Donna Wilson and I were sitting on a bench at the park, feet up on the railing, watching the boats, and licking cherry popsicles. It was a clear sunny day; there was nothing to do except discuss who said what to whom, and lick those popsicles. And when we both finished at the same time, we turned to each other and Donna said, "I'm having another one." And we both knew that was the right thing to do on that perfect cherry popsicle summer day.

So when I reach for a melon popsicle, I want it to be perfect. When it's melon-eating time, why settle for a cucumber? Melons take some work to grow in this climate. And they're heavy to haul. And their yield is unpredictable. But every once on a while we hit the jackpot and all there is to do is sit back with a slice and a smile. Ahhh - perfect!


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