It’s an ingrained habit, something I often do without giving it any conscious thought. My hand is a magnet, and my knuckles are drawn with precipitous force to the firm surface.
I am drawn by this interior magnetism that pulls me towards watermelons. Every time I catch a glimpse of unprotected specimens, I make a beeline straight for them.
Knock, knock, knock. That answering resounding hollowness is addictively satisfying, and if time and environment allow, I’ll probably dart around from melon to melon, knocking on each one. I don’t know when I learned to rap my knuckles on summer’s green-ribbed watermelons, but I haven’t stopped since.
Far superior to a cheesy knock-knock joke punchline, the response to this kind of knock-knock should be a deep, full-sounding thump. Hypothetically this indicates a maturely ripened melon hidden within the poker-face rind, and it’s amazing how cavernous a few pounds of juicy watermelon flesh can sound within that mysterious shell.
You do want to find one that’s ripe, since watermelon don’t ripen any off the vine. I’m not sure there is any foolproof method for distinguishing ripeness; I choose to utilize this one anyway, of course, but you can also check to see if the stem is shriveled and if there’s a creamy or yellow side of the melon. This is the “groundspot,” the spot where, incidentally, it lay on the ground while it ripened.
You’ll need to choose, too, whether you want seeded or seedless. Those little seedy white things in seedless watermelons are actually immature seed cases; these carefully hybridized melons are sterile and vines wouldn’t grow from the seeds even if you didn’t just swallow them.
The mature black-brown seeds of other varieties can grow more watermelons, although contrary to certain circulated sentiments, not in your stomach. All parts of the melon are edible, in fact, far beyond the festive red flesh; throughout the world you might find pickled or stewed rind and roasted seeds.
While we might think of watermelon as a quintessential American summer treat, it’s popular around the globe--China is the largest producer, typically weighing in at about 80 million tons annually.
Watermelon is multiplicitously classified as a fruit, berry, and vegetable, but whatever it is, that’s a whole lot of it.
It’s a lot of water, too, since it’s 92 percent water. In light of that stat, the name makes a whole lot of sense, as well as the effect it has on my bladder after I stuff my face with it.
It’s just so easy to eat. I probably could literally eat an entire one, and I’m not talking about those disappointingly small “personal size” ones.
Refreshing and sweet, cold and sticky. Juice running down my face, coating my greedy fingers, dripping onto the porch below.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Summer.
Amanda Miller writes a column about local foods for The Hutchinson News. She teaches classes at Apron Strings and makes cheese on her family’s dairy farm near Pleasantview. Reach her at email@example.com