The Watermelon Graveyard

One thing I love about living in the country is that I can stand on my back deck and chuck my watermelon rinds into the woods. If I lived in a city, I couldn’t do this. If I lived in a developed neighborhood, or in an apartment building, or in a place with concrete rather than earth all around my house, I couldn’t. Please understand that I don’t have to chuck them. I have a legitimate way to get rid of trash. But I can chuck those rinds, so I do.

I also chuck the tea leaves out of my teapot behind the house. This requires less of a throwing arm and more of a sweeping fling, a technique I have pretty much perfected through years of practice.

I not only can chuck the rinds, I want to. Reasons abound. Among them:

Coco the Adorable, Samuel’s sweet pug, LOVES watermelon and eats more of it than you’d think she could. I, too, can eat quantities that would surprise some people. It’s a thing we do together. I no sooner take the beast of a melon out of the refrigerator and put the point of my biggest knife into it, than she is off the cushy spot on the couch she had been curled up in, seemingly fast asleep, and is at my feet with that face of hers staring up at me. Surely you won’t deny a nice dog like me a healthy snack??  She presents herself as if she is underfed, starving, neglected, pathetic – none of which she is, of course, but she does a mighty fine job of acting that way. I cave. You would cave too.coco begging (2).jpg

Our routine gave me an idea last year. If Coco likes watermelon, maybe other animals would too. If I have this many rinds from eating this much watermelon, I ought to think of a way to be smart about disposing of them. I do not exist to feed the wildlife in my woods, but I know that deer and mice and squirrels and whatever else are out there. And if I can make their day with free food AND get rid of bulky trash at the same time (without adding to the piles in the landfill) with no known reason why this is harmful in any way to anything, why shouldn’t I? It gives me a warm feeling to know that the wildlife can gnaw away to their heart’s content. Mind, I have never actually seen them do this, but I did check the watermelon graveyard for evidence the other day, and this is what I found:


Looks gnawed to me!

The graveyard, yes. This is the full picture of that area.

watermelon graveyard.jpg

If you look carefully, you can see the rinds, old and new, among the broken, fallen branches which, granted, the wildlife have to maneuver their way through in order to get to said rinds. No one said it was going to be easy. The pinker rinds are from yesterday, the whiter ones have been enjoyed (let me hope immensely) by my resident wildlife.

I stand at this corner of my deck.

corner of deck.jpg

I bring my rinds and look out at this view.

rinds on railing.jpg

And I pitch them. It’s just woods, but it’s also a pretty steep hill that drops off quickly, steep enough to have to walk sideways up or down it at times, steep enough to have to hold onto trees for support at times. Walking down to the graveyard to get the photo of it was no walk in the park. Anything I throw from the corner of the deck in that direction is going to land partway down the hill. It’s far enough away from the house to feel “away” from the house, but close enough that I can reach it with a good throw.

I want credit for being smart enough not to invite wildlife to come too close to the house using food as an enticement. I want them to stay in the woods. I want to throw the rind as far as I can. Judging from the abundance in the graveyard, I have a fairly consistent range. I am not going to measure that. I don’t weigh myself either. I don’t need the number. I just know it feels like the right distance/weight for me, and that’s enough.

A good throw has its pleasure for me too. Many, many moons ago I played softball. I have no concrete evidence to support this next statement, but I remember my team making it to the all-stars tournament when I was probably 11. I was a pitcher, and you pitch underhand in softball (or you did back then) but you also have to know how to throw a ball overhand to get it quickly to the first baseman or whoever. My dad taught me how to throw a ball and I am fairly certain he had one goal in mind: Make sure this girl doesn’t throw like a girl!

I am not going to enter any throwing contests, but I can throw a ball. And if you can throw a ball, you can throw a watermelon rind, trust me. The rind is more fun to watch than a ball as it leaves your hand on its way to its final resting place in the woods for one good reason: it spins. You have to do it yourself to know how fun this is.

As you may have noticed, the graveyard also contains unwanted branches; these were cut from saplings closer to the house that I needed to get rid of. (You need only so many saplings near the house.) When I have to get rid of cut flowers that have seen better days, I make my way toward the graveyard and fling them in that direction too. The watermelon graveyard is a place of eternal rest (and decomposition!) for unwanted plant material.

Come to think of it, the tea leaves are what got me started with the idea to Give back to nature what nature produced. I get my loose Earl Grey tea at Foods of All Nations in Charlottesville. I put a teaspoon of leaves in the pot, pour in the boiling water, then use my nifty strainer. Some of the leaves end up in the strainer, but none of them in the cup – a great, well-tuned system. Most of the leaves stay in the pot. Cleaning up (later) means finding a way to get rid of whatever tea leaves and liquid is left in the pot. I don’t want to throw liquid in the trash can, nor tea leaves down my drain. The perfect solution seemed to be: Chuck them. Give the leaves back to the earth. Granted, the earth didn’t produce the tea leaves exactly here, but let’s not fuss about details.

The main thing is we ought to embrace the freedoms we have and celebrate them. Act on them, live them out, enjoy them, cherish them. I realize that chucking watermelon rinds would probably not give anyone else under the sun the thrill it gives me. I realize that there are other ways to get rid of loose tea leaves and that flinging them off my deck into my backyard will not matter one bit in regard to improving the soil quality (although maybe that’s why the weeds grow so well??). But I can chuck and I can fling! Not everyone has the freedom (and the right property on which) to do it. But I do. Yay! Other people have the freedom and circumstances to do other things that I can’t do. I hope they appreciate theirs the way I appreciate mine.


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