Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Education of Little Tree & Watermelon

Today I'm sharing a passage from The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter, who created the literary character Josey Wales, a character made famous by Clint Eastwood. The Education of Little Tree is a nonfiction account of the author being raised by his Cherokee grandparents after being orphaned. The book has been accused of being more fiction than nonfiction, and it's been criticized for its portrayal of the Cherokee Indians.

Despite this, I'm still sharing a passage where the author shares a description of working with his grandfather to select a ripe watermelon from the garden. If you've ever stood in front a produce bin for 15 minutes trying to select just the perfect melon, you'll relate to the following passage:

He thumped it hard. He didn’t say anything, but I was watching his face close and he didn’t shake his head, which was a good sign. It didn’t mean the watermelon was ripe, but no head shake meant he hadn’t give up on it. He thumped it again.

I told Granpa it sounded might near like a thunk to me. He set back on his heels and studied it a little more. I did too.

The sun had come up. A butterfly lit on the watermelon and set there, flexing his wings open and closed. I asked Granpa if it wasn’t a good sign, since it seems to me I had heard that a butterfly lighting on a watermelon near about made it certain the watermelon was ripe. Granpa said he had never heard of that sign, but it could be true.

He said as near as he could tell, it was a borderline case. He said the sound was somewheres between a thank and a thunk. I said it sounded like that to me too, but it ‘peared to lean pretty heavy toward the thunk. Granpa said there was another way we could check it out. He went a got a broom sedge straw.

If you lay a broom sedge straw crosswise on a watermelon and it just lays there, the watermelon is green. But if the broom sedge straw turns from crosswise to lengthwise, then you have got a ripe watermelon. Granpa laid the broom sedge straw on the watermelon. The straw laid there a minute, then it turned a ways and stopped. We set watching it. It wouldn’t turn anymore. I told Granpa I believed the straw was too long, which made the ripe inside the watermelon have too much work turning it. Granpa taken the straw off and shortened it. We tried it again. This time it turn more and might near made it lengthwise.

Granpa was ready to give up on it, but I wasn’t. I got down so I could watch the straw pretty close, and I told Granpa it ‘peared to be moving, slow but steady, toward being lengthwise. Granpa said that could be because I was breathing on it, which didn’t count, but he decided not to give up on it. He said if we let it lay until the sun was straight overheard, about dinnertime, then we could pick it from the vine.

This is quite the process.

At this time, I don't have any advice to help you choose the perfect melon. Before I give advice I want to have it backed by a little science and research. However, there are various websites out there that claim to have the key to picking the right melon. The following site contains a video on choosing the right melon:

How to Choose the perfect watermelon

I'm still skeptical of the thump method.

Keep on the sunny side,
muddy waters

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I love watermelon. We grew them in our backyard in Texas as I was growing up, and the stripey Zeppelin appearance of the melons still makes me happy. Not sure about the "thump" method, myself though.