I’m a busy lady with two small children, volunteer activities, after school sports and an up and coming career in writing. Neglect is no stretch of the imagination for me which made my experiment all the more enticing. Easier — considering the fact that overhauling my summer garden drained me to the bone.
And so it happened. One afternoon, after a full day of tilling and mound shoveling, I spied my leftover watermelon rows and thought, there’s no way. The tiller is due back at the rental store, my back is aching, and my husband is staring at me, the question clear in his eyes, Are we through here?
Yes. We’re through here. I have no desire to weed and till another inch let alone a ten by seventy patch of garden! Besides, I’ve nothing to plant in these last rows, so why bother excavating when all it will mean is more maintenance? Come spring, if I want to expand, we can scrape these weeds clean with the tractor – a much easier prospect. So it was settled. I’d ignore this end of the garden until spring.
Over the next week, tiny shoots of watermelon broke through the ground. Admittedly my first thought was more grunt than anything, but I quickly put the annoyance aside and admired the little cuties, reminding myself I was NOT weeding that section. No problem.
Next thing you know, the vine is meandering into my peanuts, flowering, and out pops a miniature watermelon! The kids noticed it first, with hoots of excitement (apparently, they find this sweet and delectable fruit more enticing than the cabbage and broccoli we were currently planting). Not wanting to spoil their fun, I joined in and exclaimed my admiration, “Look at those beautiful stripes of green!”
It wasn’t until my son’s family birthday party when the real excitement broke out. Everyone was in attendance, kids running wild in the backyard – we have plenty of them, ages five to fifteen – whereby my little “authority on everything,” intent on extolling his knowledge and know how to the others, led them to the garden. Much to his delight — success! Not only were they amazed he knew the name of each plant, bean and herb, he was also growing watermelon. Watermelon!
Well, grab the basket and run tell your parents, this kid’s got his own watermelon patch! Unbelievable! Indulging the children’s enthusiasm, the adults trailed after to see what all the fuss was about and sure enough, my son had already clipped and claimed a pretty good-sized watermelon for the harvest basket.
Everyone oooohed and aaaahed over the specimen, and a nephew asked me for instruction on how to clip basil. Pleased by his interest though surprised by his choice, I began to explain – until suddenly, my heart stopped. From the corner of my eye, I caught sight of another nephew leaping over rows as if he were running an obstacle track!
I hollered at him, “Stop!” while at the same time, my niece called out for permission to cut another melon. My attention duly divided, I couldn’t respond until — thankfully — my son took over the job of teaching his cousin how to correctly traverse the rows.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned to see her ripping the fruit from the vine. “Take it,” I murmured. It’s yours, now.
Returning to the task at hand, I showed him how to pinch the basil, the only part he wanted. To our left, kids were swimming for sweet potatoes and to our right, they were snipping okra. It was an amazing scramble of activity.
“Can I have this green pepper?” asked my sister-in-law.
“Sissy, what’s this?”
I looked up to see her holding an eggplant. Glancing up from the basil, my nephew ventured, “May I have a watermelon, too?”
Pleased everyone was enjoying the harvest, I replied, “Of course.” But I can’t make any promises as to quality. By the warm pleasure that swamped his expression, I’m not sure it mattered.
He doesn’t know it isn’t watermelon season!