It is finally summer here, after all.
Damn, it is hot.
I know. After months of wondering if the grey cloud cover would ever lift away to reveal blue sky, I have no right to complain. Last week, I felt exuberant, like a little kid released from school, hop scotching down the sidewalk. Warm air, no need to huddle under a raincoat, the chill of winter a now-distant memory. Sitting on the couch, by the living room window, I felt a great lift. Winter had finally passed. We may not have had much of a spring (I never did see ramps in the farmers market this year), but each season is a good lesson in how little control we have over nature. Understood.
Let summer begin.
An entire week of gawking at the clear sky and gratitude for being able to turn off the furnace rose through me and beamed from my face. 68 degrees seemed utter perfection to this pregnant woman.
But not 91, in the shade. Oh dear god, being pregnant in the summer is an entirely different experience.
Unless I keep the bathtub partially filled with cold water at all times, so I can stand in there and slowly stomp my feet like a peasant woman crushing grapes? My ankles want to swell like Im a distant relative of the Elephant Man. My wedding ring threatens to dig into my skin until I can barely move my hands. This is what I get for feeling superior that I hadnt suffered any swelling yet. Now, only three weeks away from meeting Little Bean, I am wiping the sweat from my forehead with my swollen fingers and sending out hope that it might rain again soon.
Just a bit. Warm rain is fine. But in a city not set up with air conditioners, and a hugely pregnant woman with five pounds of baby bulging within her, this weather just plain sweats.
(You knew I was going to find the good in this.)
All the spring and summer produce has popped into the markets at the same time. Scarred rhubarb stalks sit waiting next to lurid red and yellow Rainier cherries. The strawberries on Saturday had benefited so much from four days of sun that they loomed almost maroon from their blue pint boxes. Squash blossoms and bitter arugula and the fat heirloom tomatoes, plump and grinning, beckoned us to the tables. The luscious green perfume of basil permeated the air. We may have been sweating when we reached for English peas and cucumbers, but we were smiling.
And another benefit of this sudden intense heat? Watermelon season has begun.
I dont know why it took me so long to love watermelon. Even though I never think of myself as a picky child, I did eschew certain textural experiences in my food. Tomatoes felt too mushy to eat until I was sixteen. Lima beans disgusted me with their tough exterior and chalky insides. (They still kind of do, to be honest.) And watermelon always tasted too mealy to my tongue. Used to the firm flesh of cherries, the crisp bite of apples, and the succulent indulgence of a ripe peach, I turned my tongue away from watermelon. Mostly water, with a strange little chew at the beginning, watermelon grossed me out.
And the seeds were so damned cumbersome.
Now, Im happy to sit on the back porch and squeeze the sweetness out of every bite of watermelon, and then spit the seeds into the green grass. That picky kid has become a woman of gusto. Messy taste experiences, richer for diving into them? Bring them on.
At least now I eat watermelon in more forms than as a taste in Jolly Rancher candies.
So the heat will pass. We only have four or five-day heat waves here in Seattle. Later in the week, the air will turn cool and lambent again, the perfect 74 degrees during the day with willowy cool nights. But for now, when its as hot as the Los Angeles of my childhood, and Im forced to wear a wet t-shirt to bed again, Ill put half a watermelon in the freezer and wait for it to chill. Sorbet? Watermelon ice cubes? A cool gazpacho? Im not sure yet. This is the level of decision Id like to make these next three weeks, while waiting for Little Bean.
And you? How do you like watermelon?