I have some great childhood memories of summertime. Big hits: swimming or jumping around in the sprinkler spray, chasing fireflies, and playing flashlight tag until the porch light flashed on and off (the signal that it was time to drag our sweaty, grimy butts home). I remember listening hard for the tinkly sound of the Merry Mobile and running inside, screaming, “It’s the ice cream man! It’s the ice cream man!” and pleading with Mama for change for “the ice cream man.” We were only successful about two days out of six, but it was always worth a try.
Another favorite summertime memory is the sound of a fresh, cold watermelon being sliced open. That satisfying thwack! as the knife cut through was followed by the sweet, sweet scent of watermelon-y goodness. I swear, the temperature felt like it dropped 10 degrees with that first cut. We had them fairly regularly, since almost everyone in my neighborhood had family with a farm nearby, and watermelons were a community food, meant to be shared. Refrigerators were small then, and once cut, the melon needed to be eaten. So it was common for a neighbor to call out, “We’re cutting a couple watermelons tonight. Y’all c’mon over!” And we almost always did!
(photo credit: viralbus on flickr)
These impromptu gatherings were never fancy. Adults would take lawn chairs, which, for some reason I’ve never understood, would always be arranged in a circle so that they all faced one another. (Or a half-circle, if my family was playing host, because our back yard backed up to the neighborhood Little League field and there was likely to be a game in progress.) Their melons were served in wedges and eaten with forks, seeds flicked into the grass before eating. Kids got slices of watermelon, no forks necessary. We just bit into it and let the juice flow where it wanted. Seed-spitting was required. Inevitably some kid would swallow a seed, the signal for other kids to share horror stories of people who died from the massive pain of having watermelons growing in their bellies. And then, of course, the swallower would burst into tears and have to be taken home early. It was all fine by us, as that meant more lighting bugs for the rest of us to catch.
Ah, the good old days. Minus the mosquito and chigger bites that usually resulted from these events.
I bought my first watermelon of the season on Monday, but I’m not sharing. Not because I’m stingy, but because these days and in my neighborhood, having people over involves bowls and napkins and forks and drinks, and besides, I’ve got this nice big refrigerator with plenty of space for storage.
With a goodly portion of the U.S. in the throes of a heatwave, it seems like a good time to share some recipes for watermelon treats I found recently:
Cucumber-Watermelon Salad (two refreshing treats together–yummy!)
If you’re not into watermelon (I’ve heard that some people aren’t), you might find some healthy sweet heat relief in these 15 So Good Frozen Desserts. I’m going to Target later today to buy some popsicle molds for the Quick and Easy Banana Pops. I might make some watermelon popsicles, too. Not quite the same as the Merry Mobile, but it should be nice and refreshing.
If you’ve got any refreshing sweet treat recipes, now would be a good time to share them. Here, or on your blog, just let us know where to find them.