Category Archives: Wild Writing

Wild Writing: Watermelon Dream

Written in my Wild Writing class, inspired by two different poems: “A Prize Watermelon” by James O’Hern and “Prayer on National Childfree Day” by Abby E. Murray.

watermelon

I’m in the watermelon dream. As a kid, even though my grandparents had a farm and we had a large garden, we didn’t grow watermelons. Maybe it was too wet in Oregon, or there wasn’t enough sun. Watermelons were the stuff of picnics, barbecues, special occasions in summer, something you bought at the store. I don’t remember ever buying a watermelon for us to eat at home. Maybe they were too expensive, or maybe my parents didn’t like them, or maybe I just don’t remember.

As I got older, lived on my own, I never thought to buy a watermelon, unless it was for a picnic, barbecue, or special occasion. I didn’t think I particularly liked watermelon. But then I moved to Colorado, and they grow watermelons here — crispy, sweet melons that are local and in season for a month towards the end of every summer. The first year we bought one for no special reason, just to eat, it was so good we ate half of it immediately, standing over the kitchen sink with two spoons, eating straight out of the melon, juice running down our arms. We obsessively ate watermelon that summer, couldn’t stop, never felt satisfied no matter how much we ate, even when we made ourselves sick to our stomachs from eating so much.

lastwatermelon

Then one year, as our garden got bigger and bigger and we had to come up with more different things to plant, we decided to try watermelon. At the end of the summer, two tiny green striped melons sat in our garden. We picked them, so excited because everything else we’d ever grown proved to be better than what we could buy in the grocery store — we gobbled tomatoes right off the vine, standing in the sun, the fruit still warm, and I ate whole cucumbers raw. But we cut into those first watermelons and they weren’t even pink yet, a pale fleshy white dotted with black seeds, wholly inedible.

We tried again the next summer, had more fruit, but still none of it ripe. Maybe our growing season wasn’t long enough in the north? Last year, we tried one more time, researched how to know when they were ripe — you had to wait until the little curl at the end turned from green to brown.

Blessed are the poems you scratch into the ground. The watermelons, those round green poems scratched into the ground. Our mistake in years past was picking them too soon, even though everything else in the garden was done — except for the tomatoes and strawberries, which slow down for sure but as long as there is sun and the nights didn’t get too cold, they’d keep going. We learned we had to wait, until the tiny green curl at the end of the fruit turned brown, and then they’d be ready.

watermelon02

This year they were bigger, maybe a different variety than we’d tried before but we’d lost the tag so couldn’t be sure. There were six of them. It was very late, summer practically over when the first curl turned brown. We took the melon inside and set it on the counter. We were both skeptical, didn’t really believe they would be any better than before, but when Eric split it in half with the knife, the flesh inside was deep pink and juicy. He leaned in close, took a deep breath, and said, “well, it smells like a watermelon,” but neither of us really believed the fruit would be tasty, anything we’d want to eat.

We each took a bite, our eyes widening as we chewed, smacking each other on the arm before our mouths were empty enough for words. It was good. It tasted like watermelon. We moved half the melon into the sink and another spoon so we each had one, and like that first time, ate half a watermelon standing over the sink, spitting black seeds into the compost container on the counter, the dogs hovering by our feet, begging for a bite.

A watermelon, from my garden!

We could hardly believe we’d done it, that there were five more huge watermelons in our garden that would soon be ripe and ready to eat — their seeds were poems we’d scratched into the ground, our garden yielding the watermelon dream.

What we remember, what I write might all be fiction, but it’s also the truth — pink, juicy, and full of seeds.

Where Music is Part of the Failure

onourwalk

I wrote this at the last meeting of my Wild Writing class this session. The prompt was “Music for Guitar and Stone” by Ruth Schwartz.

On our walk this morning, after being on our own for a whole week, two days longer than planned because of the snow, I start thinking about discomfort. The first “noble truth” of Buddhism is that life is suffering, but that’s hard for people to get their heads around. It gets confused with the perspective “everything sucks, so what’s the point?”

It’s easier for me to understand it as “life is uncomfortable.” And what follows is that the source of that discomfort is our desire to be comfortable. It pulls us out of every moment, a constant longing for some other now.

As we walk, my thinking, my internal narrative is constantly interrupted by the need to reroute, because of mud or another dog and its person heading straight for us or a rabbit frozen on the side of the path or a pile of horse poop. It’s also interrupted by the need to respond to the dogs, a tangled leash or the young one about to eat something he shouldn’t.

And that makes me think of the way Susan Piver shifted the Four Noble Truths, came up with Four Noble Truths of relationships, of love — the first being that relationships are uncomfortable. She explains that the root of that discomfort is the way we cling to comfort, the ways we blame the other person for causing our discomfort.

I call dogs one of my practices, (along with writing, meditation, and yoga), because in that relationship, primarily on our long daily walks together, I can see all of it — the ways I fuck up, the ways I’m winning, the mundane and the magic. When I see how happy Ringo is to find the perfect stick and carry it, I expand, my heart opens. When he tries to eat a huge pile of cat poop that will surly make him sick, I feel myself contract in fear and irritation. It’s all there, and I’m just trying to get comfortable. I notice that and try to shift, attempting to be okay with the discomfort, to allow it — “where failure is part of the music.”

Registration for the next round of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner just opened. This time it’s a shorter session, only four weeks. After this, classes won’t start up again until the fall, so if you’ve been wanting to try it this is a great opportunity. It truly is a magic practice and Laurie is an amazing teacher.