Watermelon was an essential part of my childhood summers. When we went to stay at my grandparents’ house in July and August, my aunt would keep a big watermelon in a net hanging in the well, where it would chill before we devoured it in wedges after dinner. What inevitably followed was a game of spit-the-seeds; my refined grandmother heartily disapproved, but my uncle joined right in. Back in town, our teacher would usually let us cool a watermelon in the deep end of the school pool — this was back in the day when refrigerators were a bit too small for the average watermelon.

Another summertime memory was suika-wari, or watermelon bashing. This game, usually played on the beach, worked like pin the tail on the donkey: the subject was blindfolded, armed with a stick, turned around several times and let loose. If they managed to find the watermelon and hit it, they won, and everyone enjoyed a treat.

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