Thursday, July 9, 2009

The taste of summer

You know summer is here when you can buy a decent watermelon.

My definition of a decent watermelon may be different from yours. To me, a good watermelon is a Black Diamond, and the really good ones aren't available until late July or early August.

Photo courtesy

Black Diamonds have a dark green rind with no stripes, and the melon itself is a lighter pink color than most striped watermelons. But the taste is oh-so sweet.

In my childhood, my family would make frequent summer trips to the City Market to buy a watermelon. My mom and dad would pile my brother and I into Dad's 1980 Chevy truck (3-speed manual, no power steering, no power anything) on a Saturday morning and head south across the river to the Market. We'd fight the crowds and find a parking space, then venture in, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells the Market has to offer.

We would walk up and down every row, looking for the perfect watermelon, until my dad found just the right one. Then he'd toss it up on his shoulder like a sack of flour and carry it back to the truck. When my brother got a little older, it was his job to carry the melon, and then, eventually, my job. (That's also how the old red truck was handed down: first to my brother, then to me.)

When we got home, my dad would pull out a cutting board and a butcher knife. You knew it was a good melon when Dad would sink the knife into the skin and it would make that wonderful c-c-c-c-crack! sound.

The Kelseys didn't cut our watermelon into slices with the rind still attached; Dad would cut the melon away from the rind and throw square chunks into a big bowl (sampling along the way, and giving us kids a taste right from the middle). The melon bowl would go right into the fridge to make it nice and cold.

A good melon was always cause for celebration. Usually our old family friend Ralph Lynch would come over. He'd bring the corn on the cob, or the tomatoes, or the string beans, whatever veggies he found being sold on the side of the road. Dad would grill pork chops with a honey-mustard barbecue sauce; Mom would make fried potatoes.

After dinner, mom served us heaping bowls of cold, fresh, black diamond watermelon. We'd sit outside on the porch until after dark, Marty and I playing catch or catching fireflies, Mom laughing and watching us, Dad and Ralph drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I can still taste that watermelon. And I'll never forget those summer nights when everything was perfect.

--Matt Kelsey

No comments:

Post a Comment