The Weather Report August 2017

A friend paid me a visit on the farm recently. She had expressed interest in seeing what all was growing and a wish to pick some of whatever might be in season. In addition to being adept at harvesting, she was inquisitive too.
Knowing of her affinity for purple hull peas, we started our incursion picking a mess. This particular legume covers the ground completely with a deep shade of green vine; it blooms beautifully. With the nascent of the pod suspended in the air on a stem, the grower starts keeping vigil. Depending on the amount of moisture and the range of temperature, maturity is a week to ten days out. This vegetable announces its ripeness by turning a deep shade of purple, hence its name. 
My friend knows her plants and immediately identified the okra growing adjacent to where we picked peas. This particular vegetable is not indigenous to America. Though its origin is debated, I lean toward Africa. Many do not like okra and the sticky, mucilaginous juice inside the fruit is the reason. But its yellow flower with a purple center is a picture stretching toward the sun. Long sleeves and gloves are a must, though determining which fruit to pick is not taxing.
Walking to pick squash, she espied watermelon vines covering the ground. When healthy, the vines of this summer favorite grow determinedly, as if they intend to pull you along with them. Here is where she asked the first question that gave me pause. Tapping a melon with her hand she asked, “How do you know the watermelon is ripe.” 
Like most growers, I have pulled watermelons prematurely. The disappointment of discovering a pink fleshy center is memorable. This led me to establish certain guidelines to follow. First, I record the date of planting. Most varieties of watermelon are 80 to 90 relative days to maturity. Nearing the end of this window of time I walk the field and look at the melons. When ripe, the underside of the melon will turn a faint shade of yellow. Some use percussion, gauging the sound thumping the melon makes, while others look for the small growth at the end of the melon not attached to the vine to curl.
Most vegetables and fruits indicate maturity. The grower learns to use all the senses when assessing these signs. I have learned to detect a certain smell when corn matures, the natural sugars peaking. Touch, sight and sound all are beneficial. Of course, nothing is a surer indication than is the sense of taste. The taste of ripeness is a gift.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter. There is nothing said of his growing a garden or orchard. He did tell stories about sowing and harvesting, often using hyperbole. In the parable of the sower he drew a startling picture in communicating his intentions to strew the good news widely and liberally. In the parable of the fig tree he condemned an out of season fig tree for having no figs. Whereas his sowing practices might be suspect, and his harshness toward the fig tree a conundrum, he was spot on about harvest time. When the field is ripe unto harvest, time is of the essence. Laborers are needed. 
The window of time regarding the receptivity to the grace of God does not stay open indefinitely. As harvesters, we must be ready. Might we trust the first Gardener to guide us in knowing when the melon is ready? —Steven