This is a story of a man and his hopes for growing the first ever watermelon on the land that is his property Windgrove. Considering the land was created during the Triassic and Jurassic Periods going back 252 million years and had never, in all those many years, bore a watermelon, this would be quite some feat. Or, so he triumphantly thought.
Hubris is forgetting how native species have adapted to their particular landscape. At Roaring Beach with an annual rainfall of less that 24 inches / 550mm, howling salt laden chilled winds off of Storm Bay and a soil fertility of near zero, the man put his hopes on the construction of a possum proof, wind resistant, solar heated roofed structure complete with tall galvanized raised beds filled with imported top soil, above ground and underground watering systems and a rocking chair to sooth his mind and body while green things grew.
With three species of watermelon planted from propagated seeds and purchased seedlings, the odds were in his favour. For weeks, though, nothing but melon vines spread across the raised beds and his patience grew thin and worry lines spread across his face.
Then it happened: a single melon was discovered under the cover of a mass of leaves, and, from that time forward every night his house was filled with the flowing of wine in anticipation of the ripening of his great pride. The corn, the tomatoes, the potatoes, the beans and peas didn’t rate as highly as his melon. Any guest, neighbour or itinerant scissor sharpener visiting his home would be taken in great strides to the garden and shown the bulging form.
As would happen, while bragging to his webmaster and stroking the watermelon as he would a pet dog to encourage a faster growth, our man accidentally broke the stem to this one and only watermelon.
Being a man who couldn’t accept failure, he quickly believed that the melon was ready to be picked, anyways. It had already ripened to perfection hadn’t it? And now was the time to slice it open and partake in its juicy sweet pinkness.
So he proudly took a self portrait with it balanced on his strong shoulder before the celebratory cutting.
Alas, his hopes of eating the first melon grown at Windgrove were dashed when the melon’s insides showed themselves to be just barely out of puberty. The man nearly cried for all the care that had gone into this one great hope only to have it ended prematurely because of some stupid mistake. And, his mistake at that.
But as angels do hover around most gardens and can step in during a time of need, they sent a quote from the poet Rilke to our man to ease his hurt and offer a lesson of life:
“For the [gardener] there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring without fearing that summer will not come. But it will come. It comes, however, only to the patient ones who stand there as if all eternity lay before them — vast, still, untroubled. I learn this every day of my life. I learn it from hardships I am grateful for: patience is all.”
So our man sat down in his rocking chair and accepted the situation for what it was.
“Maybe next year”, the man thought, “I will stand still and stand still long enough to witness the full ripening of a second watermelon.”
“Today, though, during this week of St. Valentine, I will find gladness in being able to see this first blush of young Aphrodite.”