August 21, 2009

The Watermelon Lesson

Our garden this summer has yielded many wonderful fruits and vegetables for the family. The kids revel in cooking with and sharing our bounty. We’ve made our own maple Syrup from tapping local Ann Arbor Maple trees, many types of wild black and red raspberry preserves from forraging expeditions, and we have made Mulberry goodies, Blackberry snacks and have eaten plenty of fresh garden veggies - assorted greens, radishes, carrots, potatoes, peas, asparagus, a variety of squash, cucumbers and more. The prize of the garden this year though seems to be the watermelon and the two varieties of pumpkins the kids planted. Surprisingly enough those plants have done really well and in fact flourished! My son has been dying to pick them too.

I have explained several times about how to tell when watermelons specifically, are ripe. I’ve also talked about the pumpkins being ripe after he began school - He just can’t get it out of his head though that the watermelons and pumpkins aren’t yet ripe.

When we went out to the garden the other night to harvest beans, toms and green peppers, raced over to check out their watermelon and pumpkin plants, and like little drummers immediately began thumping the fruits!

“Mom I think it’s ready, it sounds like a drum!”

“No baby it’s not ready yet, maybe another week.”

“But mom, it’s color is changing some underneath.”

“Not enough Zach.”

“But MOM it sounds like a drum!”

So I finally gave up and wander across the garden rows to take a look. Zach’s right, many of his observations seem accurate. Even the little leaves near the stem are beginning to fade some and it does appear to have a different sound when thumped. It still doesn’t appear to be fully ripe though! After an intense 20-minute debate with him though, I finally caved in - I figured the worst that could happen was that it wasn’t ripe (My husband reminded me that the worst would be rot or bugs, but we won’t go there.).

When we arrived at home, Zach rushed to the silverware drawer and immediately wanted to slice into the melon - Fine. Sure enough it wasn’t fully ripe, in fact, like a flower just coming into bloom, the insides of the melon we just beginning to hint at the pink juiciness to come. We each got a few bites of sugary goodness, but not nearly as much as if the ice-box melon were truly ripe.

The best part about this entire experience though was the ensuing lesson learned. As Zach took the last sweet bite he grumbled, “Darn, why didn’t I listen to you!” You see the sweetest satisfaction I got that day was in knowing that sometimes you let your children make mistakes and then learn from them.

A ripe melon would have hit the spot that sweltering August day, however life-lessons which are best taught by example are sometimes even better.

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