I feel the soil between my toes, hard and a little dusty.
I can see the heat in the bean field rising up over the bushes as I amble between the rows, relentlessly throwing the little bean pods into the five-gallon bucket that my smallish 7 year old self won’t be able to move soon. In fact, half way through the row, I’ll stop dragging the bucket and just start going back and forth, filling up my shirt-tail and walking back to dump in the beans.
Bean plant to bucket and back to bean plant. One after the other. Over and over again.
It’s July in South Georgia. And I am 7 and full of spunk and sass.
So far today, we’ve seen a rattlesnake and three deer. The deer come out to try and eat the crops my Pops and Granny planted. The rattlesnakes come out to scare us to death.
But these beans. These beans are the purpose for today’s trip to the fields. Or that’s what Pops and Granny said that morning when we left.
“Miranda, we’ve got to go pick the beans so we can shell them and can them.” Granny, always pronouncing all her syllables and wearing her culottes, even in heat like this, and my 7 year old self upset that we’re going to the field instead of to the beach on a day like today.
I hated those beans.
But I loved those beans, too.
When Granny says beans are the reason we’re going to the field, what she really means is there’s a treat waiting for us. The kind of treat that screams summer.
Fresh watermelon, straight off the vine. Warm from the sun and ripe to perfection.
“Granny, we’ve been pickin’ beans all mornin’. Can we cut the watermelon now?”
“Two more rows. Two more rows and then we’ll eat.”
“Eat the watermelon?”
“We’ll eat the barbecue chicken and corn on the smoker first. And then we’ll eat the watermelon.”
“But I don’t like barbecue chicken. And I don’t want corn stuck in my teeth and there’s no butter. I just want watermelon. Please can I just have watermelon for dinner.”
And Granny ignores my please, knowing I need real food to replace the sweat that’s poured out of my 7 year old skin that morning.
And so I pick more beans. More back and forth from bucket to bean plant, pods sticking to my shirt, shirt sticking to my skin, long, brown hair wrapping around my arms and getting stuck because there’s no breeze.
But Pops knows what his granddaughter needs.
When we finish those two rows and make our way over to the shade by the smoker, he wipes his brow with his handkerchief and says “Gladys, I sure would like a slice of that watermelon to eat with my chicken. Let’s go ahead and cut it.”
And so they cut it, Granny annoyed at Pops for maybe ruining my dinner, and Pops letting me have what he knows I shouldn’t have yet, but taking the blame on himself anyway.
And I sit there, staring in amazement and anticipation, my mouth watering as I imagine how beautiful it’ll taste.
We eat and I have never tasted watermelon so sweet as this before. Juice runs down my face and my arms making rivulets in the dirt caked on my skin. My hands are sticky. And my 7 year old self has never been happier.
We eat and we laugh and we play and we rest. And then I eat some more watermelon.
I am 7, after all.
This was written for The Red Dress Club’s RemebeRED memoir prompt. We were asked to write a scene showcasing our favorite fruit or vegetable. I can think of no other fruit more appropriate for me than the watermelon.