I am fed up with you people who don’t want to hear about my humongous cantaloupes. Fortunately, I have a blog where I can redirect my frustration. Welcome to my melon monologue, or, as I like to call it, my melonlogue. Although I have been sidling up to people for weeks and announcing that I have amazing cantaloupes, few people show signs of interest in hearing more. (A couple of you, and you know who you are, have asked to hear more and you will be rewarded with Casabas, Hamis, and Galias galore in heaven.) Whenever I mention my outrageous cantaloupes to my husband, he tells me to stop boasting and changes the subject to pears.
Left to my own devices since hardly anyone wants to hear about my cantaloupes, and being endowed with a wild imagination, I have come up with a film treatment for a movie called The Cantaloupes that Took Over L.A. They first appear at Universal Studios and say to the unsuspecting tourists, “Take me to your weeder.” They are eventually defeated by a team of caterers who capture them and carve the faces of Disney characters into them. The invading melons are so mortified that they roll into the ocean at Venice Beach. They are never seen again, except briefly by Tom Hanks while filming Cast Away II on a remote island. He mistakes them for volleyballs and gives them adorable names like Anabelle and Ignatius. (I really need to talk to someone about my melons.)
This spring I planted cantaloupe seeds at the end of my new bed of strawberries. They were an afterthought since I have not had any luck with cantaloupes in over 30 years of gardening. My best previous effort was one summer at the Ranch when I grew three teeny-tiny cantaloupes about the size of softballs. Even though I watered them, talked to them, begged them, pleaded with them, they never grew any bigger than that. One day I had a girlfriend over and we were trying to think of something to do, so I suggested, “Hey, why don’t we harvest my cantaloupes.” She was enthusiastic. This is the kind of thing country people do for fun. We picked those little-bitty cantaloupes and ate them. They were so delicious that we even ate the skins. And I had an epiphany. I realized that my life would be complete if I could grow a cantaloupe patch for real and eat an actual homegrown full-sized cantaloupe freshly picked from said patch. I have attempted to do this every year since then with no luck.
Sidebar: I can’t share the glory of cantaloupes with my husband because, try as he has on numerous occasions, he hates the way they taste. The face he makes when he bites into a cantaloupe is almost as painful as his okra face, and no one flees from the slimy mess they called okra while he was growing up like my husband. Every few years, when I have had my head buried in a cantaloupe and I have sunk into a melon stupor and proceeded to make noises shockingly similar to those associated with late night pleasures, my husband will want a piece of that so badly that he’ll try a slice. Then he makes noises like a cat coughing up a hairball. Some people just can’t handle a cantaloupe. The only melon he will eat is watermelon, and it has to be perfect – crunchy, sweet, cold, ripe but not too ripe. He and I have fundamentally different melon-in; I mean to say that the gene for melon-worshipping skipped him and went to me. This has never negatively impacted our relationship, except for the week he retired from his job and I handed him a honeydew list, which he immediately threw in the recycling. I should have called it a list of berry special chores or the home re-pear plan or something far from melons.
The garden is a great teacher about life. One of my favorite quotes comes from the Greek poet Dinos Chrsianopoulos and goes like this: “They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds.” Oh yes, lessons from the garden. We plant, cultivate, imagine, believe, but there are no guarantees that what we plant will grow. Expect the unexpected in the garden.
In the past, I have grown spectacular golden peaches (both yellow and white), bushels of deep red-purple sweeter-than-heaven plums, heaps of apples and pears, juicy strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates, grapes, and even (once) a dozen kiwis. But the cantaloupe has eluded me. Until this summer, when that handful of cantaloupe seeds casually (wistfully even) tossed into the ground in April has grown like something out of Jack-and-the-Beanstalk. I now have half a dozen humongous juicy cantaloupes soon-to-be-ready for slurping; plus a dozen more on the way in various stages of joyful growth. I have repeatedly googled “how to tell when a cantaloupe is ripe” and have read the instructions with eager anticipation. Every day I visit the cantaloupe patch and stroke my fruit, cooing softly. Soon. Soon.
I have nearly entered that state of grace in which I know in my heart that I can die in peace whenever my time comes because I have successfully grown and eaten my own organic, perfect, luscious cantaloupes.
This is not one of my cantaloupes. Public domain photo. Mine are much bigger than this one.
I chose this photo because the melon is nestled in with strawberry plants, like my melons.
(I'm not much of a photographer so no pics of my own melons. I doubt that my husband would agree to photograph a melon. After all, he threw out the honeydew list.)