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Sep 12, 2011

Simple pleasures


Yesterday after a 6- or 7-mile hike through classic Northern California landscape -- rolling hills, oak trees, killer views from  the high spots -- I ended up in the garden of my hiking companion.

A landscape gardener, he has the kind of extensive, highly-productive garden you might imagine: eight different kinds of tomatoes, and a few different kinds of everything else (eggplant, squash, peppers, citrus, herbs, beans, and on and on).

But it was the melons that amazed me. I've never been able to successfully grow a melon, but David's garden contained at least half a dozen varieties. The dense vines sprawled across the ground, strong and healthy, with the fruit hidden below.

For about half an hour we tasted melons, slowly making our way up and down the rows. David would reach down, pluck a melon, cut it in two, and empty the seeds onto the ground. Then we'd stand there, straddling the melon vines, the late-summer sun nicely warm on our backs, tasting and comparing notes.

The most remarkable was the banana melon, which resembles and smells like it's namesake. The French charentais wasn't ripe enough; given the cool temperatures in Sonoma this summer, it may never get there. The honeydew needed another week, but was still excellent: crisp, clean, sweet. The yellow-skinned watermelon was a total winner.

I came away with a honeydew and a watermelon, and a few perfect veggies.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best things.
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