November Watermelon & the Geographical Seasons of Darkness, Shade, and Light

The prompt: June: Historical, Cultural, Personal Memories

Eternal summer. Who doesn’t want 70 degrees 7 days a week? That’s what they say in San Diego. And wasn’t life sunshine. The money flowed. The boyfriend had soccer calves and prince-dimples. The sunsets dripped like honey. And I stayed till it was dark. Waiting for something. That blazing ball snuffed, the revelers had left. They just turned their backs and went home. Why couldn’t I? But I couldn’t stop focusing my eyes on the space in between stars. There had to be more. If I watched, it would surface.  When nothing did, in that waiting space, I whittled away my belongs to nothing. And bought a one-way ticket into that dark sky.

I could see the ground passing through a hole in the floor of the taxi cab. Dust and rocks and pot holes and pot holes and pot holes. Each contributing to the bruising of the jungle of elbows, thighs and heads that paid a meager fare for a meager ride on a meager road. Through a narrow side window from my back seat, I saw something flash green in the desert. Disbelieving, I asked my neighbor: “What are those?!” But I knew what they were. Sweet American summer staple. Checkered picnic spread archetype. Drippy treat of childhood dreams. And I MARVEL: Round, red, wet watermelon. Fields of them. With Tasmanian devil ferrying across the road between them. November watermelon in rural Senegal. Smashing my sense of season and place to pieces.

His tiny 3-year old hands have not yet learned reluctance. And they plunge into the dirt. I have to bite my tongue, as all good parents often do. The child should feel liberated in the garden bed, where my copper toppers with neat handwriting are like road signage in the redwoods or the desert. “Right here, mama,” he says, burrowing two fingers into the middle of the bed. And who am I to care if a patch of rainbow chard comes up in the middle of the carrots? He counts three seeds with the purpose of one who has just made the connection between numbers and objects. He takes another handful of dirt and sprinkles it on top like powdered sugar.  The creases and cracks of our hands lined still with earth, we fall back into a hammock hung for just the reason. Horizontal outdoors, I see the sky for the first time this summer. “Mama!” he exclaims, “there are leaves on the trees!” And indeed, the fluffy little pods have burst and given birth to summer shade. I take immense join in his recognition of the new season. And his perfect moment of presence. We swing, and I think: Blessed season of light, I have finally found you.

 

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