Hot Fun in the Summertime

Monday, November 18, 2013

Melon Fruit Salad? Yes Please!
Yes -- I do understand. I get it. Our summer is as distant a memory as Sly and the Family Stone. Yet I am reminded of those "Summer Days" when I begin to clean up and clean out of the last of the summer garden. The last to go was the melon patch. It's so very hard to let go of something that was so good to us during those days in the country sun.

Actually, I'd be telling a bit of a fib to you if I proclaimed 2013 as the "perfect" melon year. It wasn't. In fact, for the second straight year, I'm sad to proclaim that my attempt to grow the Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon to be a big, fat failure. Instead of "fat melons" I got lots of melons that grew to a size of two to three inches, and then developed a dead blotch of skin at the end.

Georgia Rattlesnake Melon
It didn't take long for that dead spot at the end to cover the entire melon either. I can't tell you how many times I watched so many promising starts on the vine go haywire on us. Like avocado trees, I've got some sort of "complex" when it comes to the Georgia Rattlesnake. No matter how many times I've tried to grow this variety -- no matter how many different things I've tried -- each attempt has come up a big, fat zero.

Fortunately? Not all melons act in this matter.

The Sangria variety -- for example -- did quite well for me this year. Do you know what the really funny part of this equation is? I didn't plant any Sangria watermelon seeds. Nope -- the seeds that germinated in one corner of a raised gardening bed this year were left over from last year. It didn't matter much that I ran them over once or twice with the injustice of a Mantis Rototiller. They seemed to like it just fine. So -- while my watermelon desires may not have been satisfied with a Georgia Rattlesnake -- the Sangria made for an acceptable substitute.

Cantaloupe and Crenshaw Melon Combo
I find myself thinking about melons now because -- well -- because melon season is long gone. Like many fruit varieties to come out of the garden this year -- they all managed to ripen up for a two-week to 10-day period in late August. During this golden, luscious period in time, it was melons for breakfast, melons for lunch and melons for dinner.

As the picture top right shows -- it was a fruit salad bonanza. Grapes, melons, peaches, you name it. Everything gave a little or a lot. And guess what? Even after all that -- it still wasn't enough. Because Bill Bird finds himself craving a home-grown, vine-ripened melon here in the month of November.

Sangria Melon Right, Crenshaw Melon Left
Except -- you can't get vine-ripened melons in November. Not in this part of the country anyway. Therefore, I do the next best thing: Post pictures and dream till next year.

Once again -- the clear winner in this year's melon patch -- just as it was last year -- is the Crenshaw Melon. I'm beginning to believe that the Crenshaw is just so darn easy to grow that one would have to be named Bill Bird to possibly screw up something this simple. So far? I haven't managed to screw it up. Therefore, I must be doing something right.

What the bugs didn't get -- the wife that is Venus would squeeze into fresh Crenshaw melon juice. Unlike past years, we didn't allow one melon to go to waste this year. What we didn't consume fresh -- the wife cut into pieces and ran it through the juicer.

Sliced Crenshaw Melon
It's during melon season where I am reminded of the Kingsburg Watermelon Festival. Sponsored by the Kingsburg Lions Club chapter, the watermelon festival was a place where you could get your fill of vine-ripened watermelon. If one quarter-slice wasn't enough, here, have two! And while you're at it? Enjoy a third! Heck, there was enough there to bathe in.

Sadly, the Kingsburg Watermelon Festival is an event that can now only be found in local memories. I'm not sure why it went away, but like most good things it did. The radio station I worked for at the time in Fresno sent me south to cover the Kingsburg event every year it seemed. Why I kept on drawing repeat coverage duty, I'll never know. It wasn't one of those events that was very hard to report on. I suppose my report went a little like this:

"There are people here... They are consuming watermelon and lots of it... Reporting live from Kingsburg...."

My love for watermelon wasn't born there -- but it's one of those little events that will always stay with me. And it's one reason why the mighty melon will always have room in the Backyard of Bird...

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