Pop’s Watermelon Comes to Fruition

Sometimes…perhaps most of the time…it is the simple things in life that bring the most joy, the most pleasure. Earlier this year, in July, I realized I had a volunteer plant growing near my back porch. I identified it as a watermelon vine. Apparently, sitting on the back steps last summer, eating slices of the juicy melon and spitting the seeds into the yard, resulted in a healthy plant.

Seeing the plant evoked precious memories of my grandfather, whom the family called Pop. Pop was a gardener whose green thumb nurtured plants and vegetables into bountiful beauties. And Pop had a wry sense of humor. He teased his grandkids, telling us not to eat the seeds when we sat outside on warm summer evenings, feasting on watermelon. If we did, he warned, with a smile on his face, watermelons would grow in our bellies. Not wanting that to happen, we spit the seeds onto the ground near the front porch. Every summer, volunteer watermelon plants showed up in those flower beds, and Pop allowed them to grow.

Those childhood memories made me smile, as I weeded around my own volunteer plant. In honor of my grandpa, I made a little stick trellis and decorated a piece of concrete, using Pop’s quote about spitting out the seeds.

I cared for that plant all summer, watering it often, watching with interest as the vines grew and snaked across the yard. The vines in Pop’s flower beds rarely produced fruit. I didn’t care if my plant did or didn’t. Just having the plant brought back warm memories of gardening with Pop.

To my surprise, and delight, two watermelons appeared on the vines and continued to grow. I’ve been watching the fruits carefully. When the stems turn brown, the melons are ready to pick.

This morning, the sign for harvesting was present for one of the watermelons. The second melon isn’t ready to pick yet. It is still growing beneath my rusty wheelbarrow. But watermelon number one was plucked and carried into the house.

The fruit was small, and beautiful, and appeared perfect in every way. I confess I was a bit nervous about cutting into it, even though I love dining on watermelon. It was a good sign that the melon cracked, with a pop, when the knife bit into it. With a sense of relief I noted the bright red flesh inside and inhaled the fruity aroma. It was ripe!

The melon was juicy and sweet. I chopped up half of the watermelon and added a couple of slices of cantaloupe, grown in my raised bed garden. I sensed my grandfather’s joy and heard his whispered words, Look at that watermelon. You did it.

I also recalled his teasing admonition, Don’t eat the seeds. I know now that the seeds are safe to eat and even have some health benefits. But I grinned, and stepping out onto the back steps, I deliberately spit seeds onto the ground.

For you, Pop, more watermelon seeds to sink into the soil. May they take root and surprise me next summer with healthy plants that bear fruit.

It was the best watermelon I have ever eaten.

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