Summer in the City

Summer in north Florida is miserable.  It’s hot, humid, and rainy.  I think that throughout the summer half the county population escapes to the North Carolina mountains for a week to cool off.

But not me…  I prefer the mountains of the West. And, I don’t like to travel during the peak summer season.  Prices are too high. More importantly,  the probability of a close encounter of the third kind with the most aggravating vacation spoiler – young children – is too high. So I suffer as I plan an escape in the Fall.

But, summer has one redeeming aspect.  It’s watermelon season!  And I love watermelon!

At one time, the adjacent county was a watermelon king.  Over 80 growers cultivating hundreds of acres.  Each year in June, there’s a watermelon festival complete with a Watermelon Queen and plenty of big, juicy, cheap melons.

Not sure what happened, but I read that there are now only about four growers left in that county and the acreage has plummeted.  The Watermelon Festival continues, mainly as a tourist event.  I don’t attend any more.

I’m convinced that decreased watermelon cultivation in the adjacent county has contributed to price creep. Last weekend, the local grocery store wanted $6 for a modestly-sized seedless watermelon.  But only fools or the truly desperate (or lazy) buy a watermelon from the grocery.

In these parts, you buy a watermelon from the back of a trailer located on the side of the road.  And with July 4th coming up, I needed my first melon of the season.

The watermelon gods were with me Wednesday afternoon as I was driving on a business trip.  On the drive out, I spotted a trailer with melons advertised at 2 for $5. I was hoping my co-worker would buy one so we could get the deal; otherwise, it was likely that just one melon would be $3.

But rather than stop and buy the melon immediately, I wanted to scout for other opportunities.  Besides, I didn’t want that melon possibly damaged by rolling around in the trunk for two 50-miles drives.

During the trip, I spotted a few other watermelon trailers but I didn’t like the looks of the melons’ sizes.  So as we came back into the town, we pulled over by the trailer I spotted on the way out.

My co-worker didn’t want to buy a melon and so I resigned myself to paying $3.  That’s the upper limit I’m willing to pay.

I was lucky. These just happened to be the red seedless variety.  I have no problem with seeded melons; that’s what I grew up on.  There were no yellow (unthinkable) or seedless versions back then.

Talking with the teen who was selling the melons, I learned he and his uncle had come up from Chiefland, over 50 miles southeast.  That’s a big watermelon producing area. Competition down there is fierce; melons are as cheap as $1.

So they came up here to see if they could get a better price. I suggested that his location was not very good.  If he went down the road about five miles, he’d come to the State of Florida Office complex, where a good 2,000 folks pour out at 5 PM.  His eyes widened at that number.  He’d only sold about 50 melons the whole day.

This weekend, I’m celebrating the red, white, and blue.  I’m gonna gorge myself on red seedless melon right down to the white rind until I’m blue in the face!

Enjoy your 4th!

P.S.  Speaking of “the City,” I’ve finalized plans to celebrate Susie’s 60th birthday in September with a trip to “the City”…New York City.  I snagged a Southwest fare sale from Jacksonville to La Guardia for $200 roundtrip, including all taxes. Staying at a new County Inn and Suites in Queens, one block from the Queensboro Plaza subway station and just a few stops away from Midtown Center and the southern end of Central park.   By prepaying, I got a rate a rate of $82 with breakfast, a great deal for NYC.

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14 responses to “Summer in the City

  1. Amen to summer and watermelon! And I love roadside stands! Speaking of location, there is a guy in a truck selling Georgia peaches on the side of the road just north of Wal-Mart on Monroe Street. He’s been there for probably two months now and every day I say I’m gonna stop, but…And there is a guy who sells Tupelo honey from his truck on Highway 98 just south of Wakulla Springs. I love that guy! And why is it you can never find Tupelo honey in a store? Happy 4th to you too!

    • > never find Tupelo honey in a store

      Because they can make more selling it from the back of a truck in Wakulla…

      I may have to check out those Georgia peaches!

      A neighbor’s taking Susie to his sister’s, who has a bunch of fig trees. She’s gonna fill me an “Xtra large” size movie popcorn bucket full of fresh figs, which i love.

  2. Best watermelon I ever had came from Chiefland, but wasn’t grown there I think. Haven’t found it since.

    My wife and I have happy memories of “squirting” watermelon seeds through our fingers on the Suwanee River. Maybe that was why they tasted so sweet:)

    You’ve got to take your wife to at least one Broadway show in NYC. and MUMA is awesome.

    • I think MOMA is on the agenda for Sunday, since I suspect a lot of other places may not be open.

      As for watermelon seeds, we don’t waste them. I Asia, the seeds are dried and salted than sold in small packages as “candy.” I liked them!

  3. Amen to fresh figs too! I can’t bear them cooked, so therefore I think Fig Newtons are one of the most repulsive foods ever devised.
    As for Tupelo honey, I suspect you can’t often find it because it isn’t often pasteurized, which is a requirement to be sold in stores.
    There are many evocations of summer: fresh watermelon, fresh figs, clover and honeybees, muscadines!
    But as for fresh figs…no better than the classic scene from Women In Love, which as a movie afficionado you must know!

  4. lol thats a great clip fn.

    My pears and figs are almost ready in Valp

    I have often stopped at the guys truck to buy honey on my many trips around Tallahassee.

    My favorite stop however is for boiled peanuts. There’s a great one between Old Town and Fanning Springs. It’s actually got a roof over it and doors and everything.

  5. Indeed it is pt 🙂 FN has her moments 🙂
    I’m highly pleased to find that you know the Tupelo honey guy!
    But here is where we diverge (not to mention in other ways), boiled peanuts are even worse than Fig Newtons, and are my new most disgusting food. Mushy…green…ick!!! I’d rather eat a caterpillar! And I do actually eat snails…so…no accounting for taste I guess.

  6. Wow.. Here in MN, about the only place to buy watermelon is in the grocery store. And I think I’d likely pay around $4 for a modest sized seedless melon.

    Now… ask me about corn on the cob. The only place to buy it is from the guy in the truck who sits in a couple of locations near my house throughout the summer. Buying corn in the grocery store would be a very last resort for me.

  7. There is some fantastic corn from the farms along 207 around Spuds and Hastings. Bought some a few years ago and put it on the barbie with butter wrapped in foil and it was the hit of the day.

    Agree with territerri, grocery store is only in emergencies. Even if it’s free it’s still got to taste good.

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