Tuesday, July 7, 2009


July. Time for watermelons, which I'd always eat right down through the white and palest green of the rind, all the way to the very skin because I didn't want the sweetness to end. I remember someone telling me that swallowing the black seeds meant a watermelon would grown in my belly—I never was that gullible, not even as a child. Still, I spat those seeds out, held contests to see which friend could spit them the farthest. The white ones, thin and soft, I usually ate along with the red flesh of the fruit. There was never anything so good as a watermelon when summer was reaching its hottest temperatures and the sun sapped your appetite for anything substantial. Adulthood has done nothing to curb my summertime watermelon cravings. In fact, my husband brought a giant one home last weekend, cut it up and stored it in four large Tupperware containers in the refrigerator—I have nearly eaten every piece, all on my own, since my husband is not home much and my son for some reason does not like watermelon (or anything that is watery, like cucumbers). I remember, too, linking to earlier honeymoon posts, the sweet, round melon we purchased from a farmer on the side of a road that led down to the beach at Istro, on the island of Crete, where we were going (on the hellish moped) so that we could sunbathe for an afternoon. We saw the man's vehicle first. I call it a "vehicle" because I really don't know the proper word for it: not a truck, not a jeep . . . really it was more like a giant, souped-up tricycle; a seemingly self-made contraption with farmland dirt caked in the treads of the three thick wheels, nothing so fancy as a hubcap in sight. A blue tarp covered the open-air bench seat, the long skinny handlebars protruding right behind the exposed engine. The back was boxy, with some kind of high railings; it, too, was covered with a tarp, this one white. Most of the watermelons were under this tarp. But others were displayed on a folding table at the roadside, under an umbrella for shade. The farmer's chair a few paces away, in the shade of a tree. The man himself wore pants with the cuffs rolled high, as if in anticipation of some flash flood his mind invented in a stunning act of wishful thinking. He wore sandals. He wore a striped polo-style shirt, with his deeply bronzed neck and head poking up above the collar like a turtle craning out of its shell to take a look around. Except that this makes him sound timid, feeble in some way, when he was neither of those things. To contrast with his dark skin, a white brush mustache. When his lips parted, the mustache expanded, smiling with him. He smiled in the way that most Greeks smile at strangers: tentatively, probably thinking that tourists with broad grins are idiots. But there was no judgment in his eyes, only appreciation of our patronage, and maybe a touch of pride that we wished to take his picture. I am with him, and his arm is around me. Together we cradled the watermelon I purchased, holding it in front of us. It strikes me only now: we held it at the level of my midsection, so it does look a bit like the watermelon baby that friends threatened me with if I swallowed those seeds. Climbing back on the moped, my husband and I took this fruit-baby to the rocky beach at Istro. We split it open on those rocks, sucking the juice from each other's fingers, slaking our thirst with it in the hot, Cretan sun.

1 comment:

  1. jaloupy?? (we call tripeds)
    watermelon - we crave them now in the hot months