It’s been unseasonably hot in London the past couple of days. The kind of hot where you stick to things. The kind of hot where the sun looks like a burning laser Sauron eye that you just can’t escape no matter where you hide. The kind of hot that I usually only feel in Florida, which is why I don’t live there.
When it gets this hot, you need strategies. My favorite one is watermelon. Yes, I know technically watermelon is an object rather than a strategy, but I view it as a sort of preventative strike against dehydration.
In view of this, on Sunday I located a watermelon lurking on the bottom shelf of the vegetable cooler at the store. It was sort of perched on top of some wilting radishes. I couldn’t contain my watermelon excitement, though it is very difficult to demonstrate excitement whilst you are lugging a large watermelon to the counter. (Doing a goofy pregancy impression, though, is definitely enhanced by the addition of a watermelon.)
Unfortunately, the whole watermelon was too expensive, as well as being perhaps over-abundant for my consumption needs. The depth of my disappointment must have shown in my eyes because the nice store guys offered to cut the watermelon. Soon I was happily lugging half a watermelon towards a convenient bowl.
A very short while later, while slurping greedily on my chilly watermelon slices, I couldn’t help ruminating on the everyday magic in a watermelon. So unassumingly green on the outside, then that first startling vivid glimpse as you reveal the juicy pink flesh within.
Why on earth is it pink on the inside? Plants use visual signals to repel predators or to attract pollinators like bees and flies (and I know if I’m getting this wrong my many biology PhD friends will give me some helpful hints). But you can’t see the watermelon’s flash of color from the outside; it’s hidden like a geode. You wouldn’t know about its secret treasure until you broke it open. My mind was now caught between “Why?” and “NOM NOM EAT MORE WATERMELON NOM.”
My second favorite strategy for hot days is finding a shady, preferably breezy place to lie in the heat and hope for the sun to wink out in an act of mercy. Which is how I found myself on a terrace helping build a shade fort out of tables, chairs, blankets, towels and basically anything else we could find. (Not all of us are lucky enough to have rooftop terraces in London, but I have connections in high places. In the most literal sense possible.) I then reclined indolently in our extremely successful shade eyrie, reading a book and continuing my experiential education in the mystical nature of watermelon. (As you may expect, this involved much slurping.)