It didn’t matter that watermelons had been on sale for $1.88 the week before our vacation. Nor did it matter that the 20 pound melon I chose was plump and round and ripened to perfection. To my husband, who loves to conserve space as he places each square or rectangular suitcase in its spot, this large round melon was a misfit. He loudly announced the inconvenience at each rest spot and every destination as he tabulated the number of vacation miles it had traveled.
Little did we know then, that the tale of the watermelon would become our best vacation story and one that elicited peals of laughter each time we told the tale of its ultimate demise.
At the first stop, the 300 mile watermelon almost joined a buffet at a church in Michigan- but their melon needs were already met with a mixed fruit bowl. Our 800 mile watermelon was surely to debut at a picnic lunch in Twinsburg Ohio, but a rainstorm sent us to area restaurants. A midnight snack after the fireworks?...too much mess too late at night.
We declared the watermelon at customs as we entered Canada- the 1500 mile fruit was, after all, an agricultural product. Then we traveled to The Parkway Suites in Ontario, the most elegant hotel we’d visit on the trip. What an incongruous setting for a family traveling with a $1.88 watermelon in tow.
Our array of kids’ bags, colorful totes and overstuffed bags of dirty laundry blatantly contrasted the austere arching entranceway of the hotel rising above the perfectly manicured gardens. As always, I was acutely aware of the attention garnered by our multi-racial family. Our calm and demure eleven- year-old Korean- born twin daughters and our lively, animated seven- year-old African-American son were a rainbow of childhood and a flurry of activity as they helped load the elegant brass luggage cart. Like the family heirloom star on a Christmas tree, the 1900 mile watermelon graced its place of distinction on top of the patchwork-like stack of totes, backpacks and laundry bags. A noisy entourage of liveliness, we began our entrance into the grand hotel.
A bump in the pavement proved fatal for the 20 pound round object riding atop a neatly stacked grouping of squares and rectangles. We heard a thud and the ground shook a bit as the watermelon catapulted off of the cart and cracked into three large pieces next to the pristine gardens bordering the brick and concrete walkway. “OOOOH watermelon” yelled the seven- year- old as he ran to grab a piece, gobbling it like a starved rat. He sat and ate his morsel, completely unaware of the picture we presented. Parents were laughing too hard to stop him. Sisters trying to act “cool” as eleven -year-olds tend to do, tried to proceed past the sight. Hotel guests passing by smiled in amusement. What could we do but gather up the pieces and stuff them into the nearest sack.. A trail of watermelon juice traced a path across marble floors and followed us to our suite. The sweet fragrance of watermelon wafted in the air. We all sat and enjoyed a piece of the tasty fruit.
What a formula for family-building… $1.88 plus 1900 miles, divided among a family of five equals precious memories.