This time of year, when the watermelons are ripe and sweet, I think of Granny. In the summer, there would be piles of the striped Charleston Grays under the old oak tree in her backyard. An old wire spool, from Southern Pine, sat under the tree and was a great substitute for a picnic table. The melon would be placed on the table, and if a knife wasn't handy, Granny would "bust" the melon by slamming it on the table. She would "forbid" us from eating anything but the sweet meat of the hearts. We'd stand around the old spool, sometimes eating with forks, and sometimes biting into the slices of melon as the sweet juice dripped down our chins.
The branches of that same old oak tree, shaded and sheltered the shellers of the many bushels of peas and butterbeans, each summer. Granny didn't have gardens, she had fields. In the summer, her dinner table was full of fresh vegetables; and in the winter, it was full of vegetables that had been canned and preserved.
It never seemed to bother anyone that we ate the same things; okra, butterbeans, peas, green beans, fried corn, or corn-on-the-cob, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cornbread, over and over. At mealtime, not only was the table full but so was the guest list. Everyone knew that her door was always open and everyone welcome. Not only was she Granny to us, she was also Granny or Aunt Annie to many, whether or not they were related.
In 1973 a part of my world died, when she passed away - and 30 years later, the old oak tree died. The watermelons are just as sweet as they were so many years ago.