Sweet Water in Louisiana

Published 4:50 pm Saturday, June 18, 2011

When my three older children were young and the last of May fluttered her eyelashes sleepily over the ground, the swimming pool was raised and the largest, ripest, most-hollow-sounding melons greeted the hot red face of June at the picnic table. The children contested neighbors in seed-spitting tournaments. The woods snatched the fresh fruit and rinds while in our sleep racoons, armadillos, and opposums feasted on the sweet scent of summer under a late night moon. Dot-to-dot W’s made with watermelon seeds dotted the brick patio. In honor of my childhood authored by Judy Blume, my daughter and her slumber buddies gave names to three seeds, stuck them on their foreheads, and waited to see which two fell off and which one they would walk down the aisle with. Silly things like that.

One summer all the black seeds from a party melon were scrapped and thrown over the ground where an old oxidation pond had been toppled-in, sunk, ditch-dirt, and contained. Squatting in lush, irrigated soil the seeds gave birth to a watermelon patch.  Ripe red wombs heaved heavy beneath a hot summer sun but we picked them before they gave birth. It was a delicious summer!

Now days our watermelon season ripens on the 4th of July weekend at Toledo Bend camp along with a slap-happy pan of grease for the family fish fry and delicious bowls of creamy ice cream on the camp porch. It carries on throughout the summer at the beach.

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Toledo Bend, as many places throughout the south, rolls wagonloads of melons onto the roadside this month. Hometown people sit there waiting to sell their homegrown goods. Good-humored talk orbits the weather around these homegrown water-coolers.

There’s something hometown and nostagic about tailgates brimming with watermelons in the heat. And peaches too. Make me wonder why Billy Currington sings about “…sellin’ turnips on a flatbed truck.”

Watermelons are so much more appealing than turnip greens, don’t you think? But then the song is sung under Georgia heat, not Louisiana humidity. Watermelons need water. Lots of it. Louisiana is perfect in every way for watermelons.

In Louisiana our

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will take you to the Interstate and a right will take you to places like Pa Freak’s house in Sulphur, LA where he invites the neighbors to enjoy this crop of melons grown in Singer, LA.  I’m willing to bet they’re as sweet as Miss Bell’s sweet tea…probably sweeter. 😉 It’s our local farmers who make our summers truly sweet. Without them, our summers would be as bland as water…and turnip greens.

Speaking of sweetness, here’s a fun, easy recipe to make with the kiddos this summer. It combines two things that children love: watermelon and ice cream. Enjoy!

Watermelon Ice Cream Cake


Green sherbert, rasberry sherbert, vanilla ice cream (or yogurt), chocolate chips (or raisins), rounded bowl


• With a spoon you press the green sherbert ice cream down into the bowl and up against the sides of the bowl, making sure the bowl has a complete layer of green .

• Next you layer the vanilla ice cream (or yogurt) on top of the green sherbert.

• Mix the chocolate chips (or raisins) into the rasberry sherbert.  These are the “seeds” of your watermelon.

• Fill in the rest of the bowl with the seeded-rasberry sherbert.

• Chill in freezer until time to serve.

• Before serving, float the bowl in a sink of lukewarm water.  Turn the bowl upside down on serving plate.  It should pop out.  If not, place back in lukewarm water and trim edges with a butter knife until the watermelon cake frees itself.

• Serve after an afternoon of swimming.

Here’s hoping all my readers have a very happy summer of swimming, a watermelon that yawns ripe and sugar-coated upon your picnic tables, a bowl of ice cream, a glass of Miss Bell’s sweet tea…and turnip greens.””Sweet-Water