Watermelon Days

Salt or no salt? Seeds or no seeds? Yellow or red? How about a nice coral color, like this one? It can't seem to make up its mind whether it's red or yellow. But one thing it is, is delicious.

When I was kid, my Uncle Jim walked across the dirt road to the garden and thumped on several watermelons in the patch until he found the just-right one, and brought it to the picnic table by the house, where he cut into it with a huge knife, and sliced up pieces of it for all of us. I'd hold the wedge in my hands, bite into that dark red sweetness, and let the warm, sticky juice run down my chin and arms and drip off my elbows. It was perfect on a hot August day.

It's so hot now, on this August day, I can hardly think. It's stay-inside and keep-the-shades-drawn days. We're still in the midst of a terrible drought in Georgia, and everything is wilted, including me.

I was going to post about THE REIVERS, one of my favorite personal canon books, but my mind is mush, so instead I'll share a story.

(Aside: thanks so much for the email about personal canons -- and wow -- y'all sure are widely read. Next week I'll try to post some responses -- they are so much fun to read, and I appreciate your thoughts about my choices as well.)

Now, my story.

So many folks have written me about Coleen Salley -- yes, she is the friend I mentioned in my post of July 24, saying that a dear friend of mine wasn't herself right now.

I've written quite a bit about Coleen on both this blog and the tour blog (starting from the most recent posts), here and here and here and here and here. You'll see lots of photos in these links, and I've brought a couple here to share.

Coleen has so many friends, and her adventures in life and love and children's literature are so wide and so varied (like those personal canons of ours) and so deep and heartfelt. She has lived life to the hilt, and I am privileged to have spent so much time with her in these past several years, traveling together, visiting one another. The picture above was taken on Jim's and my honeymoon in New Orleans. We visited Coleen, of course.

This picture was taken at IRA this past May, when Coleen came to Atlanta early and had a visit with me and Jim.

She is a friend and more -- Coleen has been a mother to me. And I thought I would not write about this on the blog, not at all, I thought it would be too hard. I also know how many people lay claim to a piece of Coleen's heart, and I don't presume to be special.

I didn't want to say anything that might seem too personal to Coleen... but then I realized that she'd want everyone to know -- of course she would. She's all about telling stories -- the good, the bad, the happy, the sad --

"Honey, you tell every da*n one of 'em! It's how we get to know one another!" I found this Coleen quote in one of my notebooks.

Grab a copy of Coleen's Epossumondus and read it out loud in that voice that Coleen uses. And if you'd like to send a card -- Coleen's birthday was this past week -- you can send it here:

St James Retirement
ATTN Coleen Salley
HCE 503
333 Lee Dr.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808

I'm sending thoughts of watermelon days, Coleen. Watermelon days, when the juice ran down your chin and arms and dripped right off your elbows. Let's split a watermelon soon and tell more stories. I'll bring the salt shaker, because I know by now, there is always bitter with the sweet. But we'll just embrace the messy glory, wipe our chins, and keep right on livin'.

I love you.


  1. thank you for Coleen's address - her friends at Rock Springs will be sending her a little something to cheer her up. She is one of the most interesting and FABULOUS women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

  2. Thanks, Kathy -- do send Coleen a card. Her children have promised to read to her each card that arrives. I know she'll appreciate it.


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