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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Watermelon harvest in Lancaster County
It's watermelon harvest time here in Lancaster County!
Click on photo to enlarge

Last week we passed this farm setting near New Holland PA (google map). The wagon is heading back from the field with a full load. The watermelons are picked by hand. The chute sticking out from the right of the wagon is a conveyor transporting the watermelons to the boxes on the wagon. The farmers are old-order Mennonites.

"A Consideration Of The Watermelon"

Message summary: Today most of us will be ingesting some type of "seed-bearing plant" according to God’s provision in Genesis 1:29. Let us praise God from whom all blessings flow, including the blessing of a tasty sweet watermelon with or without seeds!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so” (Genesis 1:11). “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food’” (Genesis 1:29). “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:14).

Mark Twain described the watermelon, "When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat". We think our daughter, Ester, would agree with Mark Twain. When she was three years old recovering from yet another open heart surgery she would eat nothing the nurses brought to her.  Finally, after days of refusing to eat, the doctor gave into Brooksyne’s plea to give her watermelon, and when they did she devoured it.

Watermelon contains about 92 percent water so its name makes perfect sense! Our friend Rick grows watermelons and muses about the marvel of going out to his patch and observing that the soil around the plant is bone dry so he wonders aloud, "Where does the watermelon get all that water?" We also wonder where all that sugary sweetness comes from! Is dirt sweet when packaged in a hard shell?

Watermelon (seeded)Many of us recall eating watermelon as kids and spitting out the seeds, one of the only acceptable times to spit in public.  I’ve even participated in seed spitting contests where contestants are cheered on for their spitting skills but I was never the winner, (perhaps I was too timid to be bold in public spitting, since I was raised to think it a nasty habit to be practiced only when others aren't looking.)

In Belton, Missouri we had watermelon eating contests where children and grown-ups alike enthusiastically contested against each other for who could consume the most. Brooksyne’s relatives on the mountain top in Arkansas grow delicious watermelons, mostly seeded. Of course like most kids we wondered if eating the seeds would cause a watermelon to grow inside us!

Watermelon seed spitting contestWikipedia records that a young girl, Victoria, won her age group in 2010 with a spit of 36 feet. In 2012 her 17 year old brother, A.J., broke the youth record in Luling Texas,  when he spat a seed 58 feet 9 1/2 inches. That's more than half the length of a basketball court. Victoria and A.J. must come from a family with heavy duty healthy lungs! (The adult seed-spitting world record, set in 1989, is 68 feet 9 1/8 inches.)

But in our adult years we have come to appreciate the seedless watermelon. Actually the “seedless” watermelon has some seeds but they’re so soft you eat them without even being aware of it, kind of like a banana seed. Or did you not know you have been eating banana seeds all along? Within a generation, many won’t even know that watermelons have seeds (at least the hard black kind), let alone the joy of eating them right off the rind and spitting out the seeds that is a childhood memory for many of us! 

Ultimately seedless watermelons are grown from seeds and the process in the development of the "seedless" varieties is beyond my scientific understanding. However they are not genetically modified, as some might assume, but rather hybrids that have been grown in the United States since the middle of the 20th century. (See below for a link to an explanation.)

Watermelons aren’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, along with many other fruit we enjoy such as bananas and oranges. However early in the creation account we have this gift from God to the human race: "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."

We enjoy preparing these messages for people from all over the world and often consider the many, many things we have in common regardless of where we live. Today most of us will be ingesting some type of "seed-bearing plant" according to God’s provision in Genesis 1:29. Let us praise God from whom all blessings flow, including the blessing of a juicy sweet watermelon with or without seeds!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are abundantly blessed with foods of all kinds, both vegetable and fruit, meat and bread. Thank you for those who diligently work the land and reap the harvest that we might place food on our tables and be nurtured physically. You make the grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth. All we have needed Your hand has provided. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me. Amen.

William Jennings Bryan observed:

"I have observed the power of the watermelon seed. It has the power of drawing from the ground and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how it takes this material and, out of it, colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds, each one of which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight--when you can explain to me the mystery of a watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Thank You Lord, For Your Blessings On Me"   Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"The Doxology"  Video  Anthem Lights ft. Selah

"Count Your Blessings"  Video  Guy Penrod

"The Watermelon Song"  Video  Tennessee Ernie Ford (Just for fun!)


Lancaster County, PA watermelon planting
Several years ago we passed a farm where they were planting watermelons. It was a very hot, humid day so they rigged a cloth canopy over their work area to provide some shade.  When Brooksyne asked the farmer if he was planting seeded or seedless watermelons he told us this: Every third watermelon is a "throw-away" watermelon with seeds which is used to pollinate the seedless watermelons.

Lancaster County, PA watermelon planting
Normally you won't find these Mennonites without hats but it was very hot!  Notice the man driving the tractor is wearing a straw hat. The other two threw theirs under the wagon, possibly to cool them down before wearing them again. If so, it looks like the cloud has lifted and the sun is now warming the one hat. Oh, well, it was a good idea anyway.

Lancaster County, PA watermelon planting
This particular branch of old-order Mennonites use tractors with steel wheels (no rubber tires).

And Harvest

Watermelon harvest
My neighbor Eli harvesting watermelons right here on Kraybill Church Road.

Watermelons for sale
In past years we frequented this
neighborhood produce stand on our road. The small seedless watermelons to the left were just $1.00 so we ate a lot of watermelon that summer! Unfortunately for the second year now cannabis is now grown in its place - it's a messy process that sure changes the wholesome view of large watermelons growing in the field. Cannabis plants put out a stinky odor when they start flowering and it lingers over the summer months, another unfortunate change for our rural neighborhood.
(Corner of Kraybill Church Road and Colebrook Road)

John Glick's watermelon
John Glick is a local Amish friend who has been reading our messages for many years at his work computer. He was pleased to show us this 80 pound watermelon grown in his patch. Crimson Sweet watermelon (pictured) is famous for its high sugar content and great flavor. I wonder how many could be fed with an 80# watermelon?

Watermelon water tower, Luling, TexasLuling Texas has an annual "Watermelon Thump" and an interesting water tower!

For the curious here's a video about seedless watermelons.

Here's a video of a modern watermelon harvest.

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