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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Cantaloupe

In the 1950s, 60s and even into the 70s, we didn't get a lot of fresh state-side fruit that tasted good. By the time it got to the islands it had seen better days. Apples were usually bruised and mushy, same with pears. Watermelons tended to be over-ripe with that slightly sour/sweet flavor they get when they're starting to rot and honeydews tasted like a weak glass of water with a smidgen of sugar stirred in. Grapes were often green and sour. Cherries (a mouth-watering favorite of my sister and I) were often starting to get soft and grow that white mold they grow when they've been in the fridge to long. Forget about peaches and berries.

We had better luck with citrus, but even oranges and tangerines could be dried out and juiceless. And when in came to cantaloupes they were always picked so green that if they became edible they had little or no flavor.
One day while we were living at Caneel Bay, back around 1958 or 59, my father came home and announced he'd made a discovery at the hotel dump. It was a place where mostly plant and vegetable matter (both from the kitchen and the grounds) was tossed.

What could it be? He took Mom, Erva and I and showed us. There amidst the garbage was a cantaloupe vine, and on it, apparently quite happy with its environment, was one small cantaloupe. Obviously seeds from the kitchen had gotten tossed and one seed and managed to sprout and was endeavoring to produce some fruit.

Well, we were all excited and Dad promised to keep an eye on it, to protect it from predators, from having more stuff thrown on it, to occasionally give it some water, but most particularly to keep it hidden from other humans. We wanted that cantaloupe all to ourselves.

Erva and I must have asked him every day if it was ready to pick. But no, it wasn't, we had to wait. Eventually the day came when he brought it home, a large round cantaloupe that smelled.... oh yum, like heaven! Up to this point I had no memory of ever eating a cantaloupe that was any good.

Mom put it in the refrigerator and as the next day was Saturday, promised we would have it with a breakfast of pancakes and waffles.

There was anticipation as she brought it to the table. Anticipation as she cut it in half releasing a wonderful aroma. She carefully scraped out the seeds and cut the halves into quarters. We each got a whole quarter! Spoons in hand, we all dug in, put the fruit into our mouths and moaned... utter delight. Never before had we had such a juicy sweet aromatic cantaloupe. And to this day, no cantaloupe as ever tasted as wonderful as the one grown in secret at the dump at Caneel Bay.

Out of garbage good things can come.

Do you have a fruit story? Ever grown one, or stolen one, that had particularly good flavor?


  1. You were desperate for some good fruit! Did you take the seeds and plant your own?

  2. I can imagine that it tasted real good after eating the fruit your normally had.

  3. This year, my mother started weeding her garden. I was there, and before she ripped up the tomato plant that started to sprout I stopped her. Lo and behold, it was a grape tomato plant and we let it grow. Now the thing looks more like a small tree, with almost 50 toms growing. I've already picked at least two handfuls and more are just blossoming every day. Weird, weird weird.

    I also grew potatoes last summer but they were really small. I didn't let them get to their full potential.

    That's a great cantelope story. I'll never look at a melon exactly the same way again.

  4. what a delightful story and so many themes and lessons can come out of this---sounds like the start to a great book series :)

  5. Wow. Sounds like a really good cantaloupe. Well worth the effort:)

  6. What a great story! I once worked at a restaurant where there was a huge collection of cucumber plants that sprouted up near the garbage. They did wonderfully there.

    I love my garden, it's one of the most zen places I know, and the fruit that it brings forth is amazing. especially the tomatoes! Thanks for sharing, now I really need to get a cantaloupe- lol! ~ Jess

  7. What a great story! And a test in patience.

    I half my cantaloupe, scoop out the seeds, put jello and water in the holes and refrigerate. My kids love it!

  8. Wow. That is quite the story! And now I really want me some cantaloupe.

  9. Things will grow in compost heaps if you let them.

    When I was in high school, my mom had a compost heap by the back fence, adjacent to a small house behind the house next door, typically rented to college students. One batch of students asked her if it was okay if they dumped their organic garbage there, and of course she said yes.

    Some plants sprouted. Tomatoes, Mom thought, and left them. One day my brother took the compost out and came back in to say: "Mom, there's marijuana growing in the heap."

    "That's just tomatoes," she said.

    "Um, no," he said. "Tomatoes don't have five leaves." And y'know - they don't.

    She had a little talk with the college students, turned the heap, and we didn't have a recurrence.

  10. I love this cute story and the moral behind it! (I didn't know they were called Cantaloupes- I thought the english word for them is Melons. You never stop learning!)

  11. We call them Honeydew melons here - but I much prefer the green melon we call "sweet melon." Right now, in the middle of winter when apples and oranges and bananas are in plentiful supply (but not much else!) my mouth is watering at the sight of the honeydew melon.

    My favourite fruit story involves delicious mangoes - a few years ago I wrote a blogpost called MANGO MANIA - surprisingly, it was one of my more popular posts! :)

    Judy, South Africa

  12. Wow, great story! I'm hoping to get some cantaloupe later in the week.
    : )

  13. Yum yuuuum! I remember picking wild strawberries and blueberries in PEI. Delicious.

  14. Your cantaloupe story reminded me of one of my own. I had one . . . exactly one. . .on a vine, and I tended it with such care. When it was one day away from harvest, I watered it and patted it and salivated. The next morning I would actually eat this melon.

    A friend came that afternoon, bringing her Dalmatian (Gus) along. As we sat on the deck, sipping coffee I noticed how Gus sniffed at my cantaloupe. Sweet, I thought. However, the next minute it wasn't so sweet, in fact, the cantaloupe disappeared in three bites, then Gus licked his lips.

    As my friend explained (way too late) Gus loved that fruit--rind and all.

  15. We had most of the ordinary stuff. I didn't start noticing the exotic stuff until I was into adulthood and even now the cantaloupe that is important often tastes watered down.


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