Melon tales / What I’ve learned during Covid / Back in School (Part 2)

Hi friends,

After sending you a rather long note back in September, and promising a part two wherein I would discuss the new traffic light, I received a note from one amongst you suggesting that I consider sending more frequent, shorter notes.

Having jotted down over the past two months a long list of items I’d like to tell you about, one item in particular came to my attention yesterday morning. I added it to the list. I knew I wouldn’t have time to cover everything on the list this week. It’s Friday after all. And then, my friend/reader’s note came back to my mind. What if you tell them this one thing? And then tell them another small thing some other time that is sooner than 2022??

Noting it is unlikely I will be able to write without mentioning at least two of the things on the list, first I wanted to share a lesson that I’ve learned during Covid.

This summer we spent some time with my parents in Alabama. That’s not really relevant to the story, but that is where it happened. I suppose you could buy a watermelon in many places in the summer months. I didn’t buy the watermelon actually which, in my mind, partly explains what happened next. Someone buys a watermelon. A huge watermelon. And someone cuts open that watermelon, sharing juicy, pink slices with the assorted family members present at the time of fruit puncture. It’s summertime. There’s lots of fruit around. Peaches, blueberries. That is to say, there’s no rush for watermelon. It’s one of the options and it requires a cutting board and a large knife. Time passes.

I didn’t buy it. I didn’t slice it. I guess I thought whoever did (p.s., I know who did) would put it away if he wasn’t planning to cut more soon. So it sat there for multiple days, maybe three. In the middle of the counter, in the middle of the kitchen. Waiting for someone to make the next move.

I’m not certain who finally got tired of looking at that giant half watermelon and cut the rest of it into slices, nobody is here to place blame (I think it was me). I do know I picked up one of the slices and took it outside to eat while talking on the phone. I took a few bites. It wasn’t delicious. It was undelicious, like fizzy. I put the rest of my piece into the compost. I mention the phone call so you will understand why I did not go back into the kitchen and discuss the fizzy nature of the watermelon with anyone else.

Later that same day, my dad and Dave took the kids swimming, or attempted to. On the way into the pool Sam vomited all over the walkway. He vomited again when he got home and again later that night. Repeatedly. It turns out that you can’t leave a melon out on the counter for days and then serve it to a child who likes melon.

I’m happy to have learned this lesson because yesterday while I was engaged in one of my least favorite weekdaily activities which is making school lunches for the kids, I saw some cantaloupe and thought: great! Someone other than me had also bought this melon and it was November. November is not melon time, everyone knows this. But the melon was bought and it was hard as a rock. It tasted like biting into celery without the strings.

Sometimes, if I cut into a hard avocado, I might leave it out on the counter for a day to soften before trying again. I guess that’s what I thought when I cut into the canteloupe. I’ll just leave it out here and it will improve, maybe. So I did. And then on Thursday, I picked it up and pressed my index finger into the orange flesh. It was softer. Great, I thought! It worked. I started to find a container to put slices of now softened canteloupe into the lunchboxes.

And then a voice from the unknown, somewhere in the soup that my mind has lately become, reminded me of another melon left on another counter. I think it wasn’t a voice, but maybe an aroma. I think what happened was that I also left some slices of cantaloupe on the counter to soften in a container and when I took the lid off I noticed a faint aroma.

The aroma was what reminded me of having poisoned my child only months prior. I took all of the slices and the remaining half of a melon and put them in the bucket for the compost. And when I carried them outside, it occurred to me that this was something I could share with the world. A pride that I can no longer be fooled by or be party to poisoning my own children with counter-sitting melons. You probably already knew this, but just in case.

The second thing I wanted to tell you about was the traffic light. There’s a new one. Every single time I pass it I think about humanity. Somebody knew there should be a light there. That sitting in a lefthand turn lane on a six-lane road that is crossing to a four-lane road with a bike path that goes across it and no left-turn arrow and no red hand for the pedestrians and bikers is a situation crying out for improvement. Somebody said something and then some other people agreed. And now there’s an arrow. I sat at that lefthand turn so many times, with no arrow, in the evening, with bikers and walkers and traffic. And now, I’m whistling a merry tune every time. Someone worked to make that safer.

Four times each week I get to celebrate that something is easier. Something is more peaceful, more thoughtfully designed. I don’t have to warn my kids each time before we get to that light that mommy needs to concentrate. I don’t have to concentrate. I just have to sit there and wait briefly for my own safe turn.

Why am I sharing this? Because it feels good to notice the work other people do to make things better.

Thank you beautiful stranger, whoever you are.

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