Among the silly doctrines we have come to collectively obey, “eating seasonally” has to be one of the most bizarre.
Somehow, our technological advances have achieved Build-A-Bearesque baby customization, yet failed to override the natural farming calendar. So we tailor our tongue in turn to this rotating throng of produce simply because, they are, for now, the most cooperative.
No other fruit monopolizes seasonal fanaticism quite like watermelon. Thermometers flirt with triple digits and suddenly!
Supermarkets feng shui entire produce departments, prepare ye the way for the melon bins!
Its sliced image is spit up on swimsuits, napkins, piñatas like a pervasive ad following you around all summer because you once Googled and misspelled “melanoma.”
I’m having this revelation whilst melon diving, a divine selection process that earns me no less than three, side-eyed glares from the boy stocking organic cabbage.
Deep sunspot. Well-rested.
I‘ll repeat this process for an hour if I must until Produce Boy can count my pulse throbbing through my arms and my knuckles are dusted by farm-caked soil that flakes off with every knock.
All this trouble, I think, slightly panting, for a fruit that will predictably retire and abandon me, leaving pumpkin in its wake.
My neck cranes to the prepared fruit and vegetables.
The Cadillac of produce.
Peasants luxuriated to a 500-percent markup.
Because, oh, the tragedy of uneven mango slices! The toil of a pineapple dice! The lingering consequences of a chopped onion!
There, amongst the convenience squad, sits a wall of uniformly-cubed melon, neatly tucked into clear tubs. It’s meditative, like a spa soundtrack, an ode to summer camp, July 4th barbecues, the Hakuna Matata life.
But all I see are…*huff* imposters! Carbon-copy squares sulking in their own juices, morphing into mushy, Jolly-Rancher versions of their former crisp selves.
You, the eater, need not chance a too-tart, red-but-not-red-enough-for-my-liking bite. Here, you know exactly what you’re getting.
Again, why trouble myself? I almost ask Organic Cabbage Boy.
I was struck then, between an architecturally-sound pyramid of oranges and the blinding yellow lemons, by you.
You and Watermelon.
All my life this body pumped boiling blood through it. But oh, your touch chilled, tempered me to tepid. That first bite, a barely-audible crunch before melting and making a splash pad of my mouth.
You refreshed me like a reloaded web browser.
Oh, you don’t believe me? See for yourself!
Here comes the goosebumping infantry, marching up my arms to defend just how gently you disarmed me.
And still, I prepared for your exit.
Were you mishandled?
I never tossed you in the trunk with the spare tire, sweaty yoga mat, or box of Goodwill donations collecting more dust than good will.
I strapped you into the passenger seat. I threw a hand across your trunk at sudden stops when careless drivers threatened you, precious cargo.
Were you misread?
I never hacked my way into your living room or peeked inside bathroom cabinets like an uninvited guest.
I waited, I knocked, I waited, sitting outside your shell for permission, before cutting in with precision.
You don’t answer and I understand.
My clumsiness was a jarring strike against my qualifications. Frequent droppings of knives that left nicked thumbs and slashed wrists that I’m too embarrassed to explain, because I was too quick to adore, to break open so you wouldn’t have to first.
Every step peels like Velcro; stick-and-rip evidence of where you’ve been.
Kitchen counters — sugar-coated carnage.
White shirts — polka-dotted victims.
You’ve splattered these cheeks, just look! Plumped and blushed and pinched by you.
After a bowlful, I waddle down the hall, heave myself into bed and loathe my cravings, like a bloated woman with a due date.
You made this belly a water bed. I press into the squish and listen to the waves sloshing you around like a message in a bottle.
Tell me, darling, what are you trying to say?
I suppose there’s something romantic about eating seasonally, a fleeting intensity to binge on something at its prime. I suppose there’s a safety in it, too, a convenient transfer of affection once it grows tired of performing.
Which is why you’re nothing like seasonal eating and I can’t take part.
Because craving you has never been contingent upon you at your peak.
I’ll still knock with bruised and muddy knuckles.
I am still here for spitting the pesky seeds I find in your interior.
I will still adore the fluky zygotes that slip inside your falsely-promised, seedless model.
And come fall, I’ll think nothing of pumpkin, because I’ll still miss you terribly in your offseason.