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Southern Eyes

No matter the age, no matter the gender, the race or even the social status, the Tom Watson Watermelon Festival obviously is enjoyed by everyone. I saw nothing but smiles the entire time I was there this year.

Okay, I did see one, brief pout on a little face that looked like it might overflow into tears. It was 2-year-old Joselyn Bythway, who ran up to the table laden with free slices of watermelon. Joselyn chose a half-moon shaped slice much bigger than her petite face, and bit into it. A couple of bites later, she discovered the seeds. But, that didn't deter her. Joselyn simply scraped the seeds out of the juicy, pink melon with her little pointer finger. She worked at it a few minutes and completely cleaned one side, then turned it over and scraped the other side. With the de-seeding job completed, Joselyn brought the melon slice up to her mouth for the anticipated seed-free bite. At that point, she lost her grip and the whole slice fell into the dirt at her feet. Her bottom lip immediately protruded and her eyes filled to the brim. Time seemed to stand still as I watched the battle of thoughts going through her little mind. But, Joselyn prevailed tear-free. She went back to the table and got another slice of watermelon. This time, she took it to her grandfather, waved her little pointer finger around over the surface and said one word: "seeds." As any good granddaddy would do, he took out all the seeds. Pretty soon, Joselyn's face was stained red around her little smile and red juice dripped from her chin.

In fact, every young face I saw Saturday was stained red around the lips and down the chin. The red stain extended on down the fronts of shirts, too. But, parents only smiled and shook their heads, probably jealous and wishing they, themselves, could appear as cute with red stained faces and shirts.

Grown-ups were not immune to the magic of the watermelon sweetness, either. They wholeheartedly entered melon eating contests, seed spitting contests, and melon throwing contests. It was as if they'd been momentarily carried back in time to their childhood summers.

I didn't enter the contests, but I thoroughly enjoyed the watermelon. Since I had not a grandfather to help with my seeds, I took advantage of the opportunity to momentarily forget my Southern Belle graces and I spit to my heart's content. It was warranted because if I didn't, I'd be covered with red stains dripping down my chin and off my elbows. As I was leaving, I stopped at a vendor's booth and bought some watermelon rind pickles, so the magic will last a little longer.

Life just doesn't get any sweeter.

Web posted on Thursday, August 12, 2010

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