Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Fruit: In Watermelon Sugar

"In Watermelon Sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar." --Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar, 1968.

"When you cut them they make no noise and taste very sweet."   --Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar, 1968.

Little commentary can be added to Brautigan's poetic words about watermelon. The first slice in  summer should be eaten in silent appreciation for one of the great fruits of the earth. There exists no sweeter, more refreshing or perfectly nutritious product of nature. Although composed of over 90% water, Citrullus lanatus contains generous quantities of vitamins C and A, potassium, antioxidants and carotenoids, as well as citrulline, a compound which benefits the heart, circulatory and immune systems.

Anthropologists have discovered evidence that watermelons were cultivated in the Nile Valley as far back as 2000 BCE.  As noted in the Hebrew Bible, when the Israelites escaped from Egypt and began their wandering in the wilderness, they waxed nostalgic for the delicious melons they ate while slaves under the Pharoahs. It is thought that centuries later African slaves introduced watermelon cultivation to North America.

Perhaps the sweet juicy flesh of the watermelon helped sustain both peoples in their days of bondage. In watermelon sugar there is respite from life's labors and summer heat. This is the season to treasure and enjoy it.