Growing up we spent a lot of time at grandma’s house. We were there most Sundays it seemed, with dozens of us lining up in the kitchen to get our share of the big feast the ladies had prepared. And a feast it was.
Grandpa spent a lot of time tending to the great big gardens that fed the large crowds that assembled every Sunday and the even larger crowds that came on holidays. Grandpa was a truck driver, and when he wasn’t driving he was doing one of two things. He was either gardening or he was sitting in “the chair”, where he went from periods of watching television to sawing logs.
Grandpa grew just about every fruit and vegetable that would grow in those parts. Corn, potatoes, tomatoes, lima beans, green beans, squash, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, peaches, etc, etc, etc. And watermelon. For some reason watermelon was always the best. The treat all us kids loved more than the rest. I don’t know why that is, but I suspect if there are still any kids in America growing up this way watermelon is their favorite too.
We kids would play all day running around the farm, playing in the woods, climbing trees, getting on top of the shed, playing on the tractor, and playing whatever games we made up that day. Then we’d run through the field to the watermelon patch and find a couple of good, ripe watermelons and haul them back up to the house. We couldn’t wait until the watermelons were chilled in the refrigerator. We had to eat them right away. We’d hold them about knee high, drop them on the ground, and rejoice in the sound and sight of them cracking open and exposing the bright red center.
Some of us ate the watermelon with salt and some of us didn’t. I never did like salt with mine and couldn’t really understand how anyone could. Watermelon and salt just doesn’t go together in my book. But the end result was the same. We all enjoyed the fresh watermelon on a hot summer day.
Grandpa has long since passed. Grandma has Alzheimer’s and this week we had to put her in a nursing home. It’s a sad thing to have all these good memories of your grandma from childhood and come to the realization that a good person is nearing the end. We shared laughs and talked about the old times. She can remember most everything that happened from those days. It’s the current things she can’t seem to remember very well. We talked about the big gardens, snapping the green beans, canning the tomatoes, and all the other chores that come from growing your own food and living on a farm. You know, to this day the smell of tomatoes cooking reminds me of childhood summers at grandma’s house.
We also talked about eating the watermelons in the front yard under the big oak trees. Great memories. Hopefully memories that neither of us will ever forget.