Archive for May, 2012

Our unique traditions

Pretty much ever since the founding of our country there have been drastic differences between the northern states and southern states. One has always been more rural and agricultural while the other busier with traffic, construction, and industry but there is one thing that has always united the two and stood as common ground… summertime and the front porch.

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I was born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan called Taylor, affectionately known as Taylor-tucky due to the population of citizens with southern roots, and I had vivid memories of sitting on our small front porch doing whatever it was that five, six, or seven year old boys did in summertime. The porch was only about eight feet by four feet so not very big and it was painted,  such things were done in the early 80’s, what is known as Blazer Red according to what Google said the proper name was. It had two steps leading down to a short sidewalk connected to our driveway and the porch itself was lined with black wrought iron rails. We would sit there just playing, launching a new enterprise (I had an idea once to collect and sell maple tree “helicopters” and sell tree seeds), feeding squirrels that dad had taught to take peanuts, or just enjoy some occasional watermelon. Now everyone knows the best part about watermelon and thus we come to the whole purpose of this posting… spitting watermelon seeds.

Every year our family, dad, mom, my younger brother, and I, would take a trip down to see my dad’s parents in Monroe, Tennessee just outside of Livingston in west Tennessee where all of our family is from for a week long visit which almost always guaranteed a watermelon snack. Grandpa always grew a large garden with just about anything you could think of and among them was our favorite… sugar baby watermelons. This variety is perfectly round and dark green in color so dark in fact that you can barely make out the stripes that watermelons typically have and, like a kids dream come true, they were dark red and always full of seeds. Sometimes they would be ready by the time we came down but others they would be almost ripe and a day or so into our visit he would go and pick the first one. Warm or cold it really didn’t matter as it was grandpa’s watermelon and it was sweet and just the thrill of watching him crack it open on the corner of the porch overshadowed all of that. As we slurped and munched naturally, boys being boys, we had to see how far we could spit the seeds. It makes for awesome memories now that I’m close to forty and we don’t make those trips anymore.

All of this came to my mind the other day as I was working in my department, I’m a produce manager by trade, and the local school was having a watermelon seed spitting contest and several parents came in asking if we carried seeded watermelons. Unfortunately we don’t so as I tried to empathize with them I apologized and when asked if I knew anyone who did carry them I honestly couldn’t think of anyone who did. It seems that in the early 2000’s seeded watermelons just began to become a thing of the past and got replaced by their genetically engineered cousins of the seedless variety. At first the taste wasn’t that great and the sweetness wasn’t there but after some work I personally have actually started to like them though I still prefer a seeded one. Which leads me to this big question… what are we going to do when there are no seeds to spit? You laugh I know but this question is a serious one to me and has had me thinking on it for the last three days. So many of my personal memories were surrounded by such activities and it bothers me to think that in a time when everyone is trying to make things more convenient and easier to use what are we sacrificing and what great fun and awesome memories are we missing out on?

To me summertime was made for kids jumping in creeks not knowing or caring what else was in there, running around bat nuts crazy without a care in the world, staying on a bike from sun rise to sun set, and of course spitting watermelon seeds either for distance or at each other. You see when we look for them even the slightest things in our daily lives can bring back great memories and before you know it you’re smiling thinking of a simpler time or even better yet it inspires your mind to wander and get creative. Life is short to let such simple things pass by without enjoying them even if all it is is spitting a watermelon seed.


Letting go

What a better way to start my new blog than to begin it with the same post I began my first blog with. Reaching back to Monday 2 August, 2010…

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What is one of the most powerful things about life? If you look hard enough and really want to learn something it will teach you not one but many valuable lessons every day that you live. I can honestly say that as I’ve gotten older I have certainly tried to be more mindful of these lessons and look for my own teachable moments everyday. Like most of us the cares of life get in the way and we miss an opportunity here and there but today I soaked up a powerful one that I hope to never forget and I’m sure I will not because it is certain to happen again many times over. What lesson you ask? How to let go.

Today was a day in history full of significance for me. As a lover of ancient history today was the day that not only was the Roman army handed it’s worst defeat ever in 216 bc by Hannibal but also the day a couple hundred years later that Julius Caesar uttered the immortal words “Vedi, veni, vici”. There is only one event though that could over shadow that for me… my daughters first day of kindergarten.

Take a minute to compose yourself as I know this sounds crazy and over dramatic but if you knew me or my daughter you would know how close to reality this actually is. My little girl is everything to me and everything that any dad could ever want. We’ve been on “dates” together teaching her how boys should treat her, rolled in the floor wrestling, had tickle fests, read princess books, and yes even danced in the living room to imaginary music with imaginary gowns and suits in an imaginary ballroom. She was my princess and I her prince.

She is my world and my twin of a different gender. We share the same mannerisms, features, likes and dislikes, and can even be just as grumpy so when I let go of her to start school I felt like I was literally letting a piece of myself go. Nothing in this world can ever prepare a dad to let go of his daughter for anything and one should never listen to anyone who says that they have found the secret on how to do it because they haven’t.

It was a beautiful day and a joyous event knowing that she loves to learn and she is beginning an exciting stage of her life but part of me couldn’t help but feel like she was just put in my arms and I held her for only a minute before I had to hug her and tell her to have fun and listen and learn a lot like I did today. It literally happened that fast.

I fell in love with her the first time I laid my ear to my wife’s belly and began speaking to her and then, as if she could actually hear me, she gently pushed on my face as I spoke to her… I was in love from that moment and always will be. I know that she will be greater than what I’ve ever hoped to be and will shine and make us so proud but in order for her to do that I knew I had to do that hardest thing ever… let her go.

I love you Madalyn shine on and be the brightest star that this world has ever seen. You will always be my little princess and I your prince.