Honeydew by Wendy Hammer

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honeydew

There’s a bowl of chilled honeydew melon on the nightstand. The glistening green cubes bristle with crystals of fleur de sel. You’ll love it. Salt decreases bitterness and enhances sweetness. If you believe the molecular gastronomy crowd, the phenomenon is a result of contrast amplification. It combats sensory adaptation and habituation. You know how it is, when you stop actively noticing things because you’ve been exposed to them for so long: perfumes, flavors, even a pleasant view. Adding a surprise, a bit of the extreme, can add new depths to experience.

Here, have a bite.

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A knot is a unit of speed. Specifically, it is one nautical mile per hour. In more familiar terms, perhaps, it’s approximately 1.151 mph.

A knot is also a lump or knob created by interlacing some kind of linear material: rope, cord, hair, spaghetti, ribbon, licorice whips, whatever’s on hand.

Knots can join, suspend, bind, constrict, fix, secure, close, or in some cases, kill.

Basic knot forms are slings, hitches, bowlines, loops, bends, shanks, cinches, and squares, among others.

Knots have colorful names, many deriving from their form or function. Some are sweet: the Friendship knot, the True Lover’s knot, and the Granny’s knot. Some come from the bestiary: the Cow Hitch, Monkey’s Fist, Cat’s Paw, and Lark’s Foot. There are food knots like Pretzels, Egg Loops, and Corn Beef knots. There are knots named after occupations and shapes, and knots of pain: constrictors, nooses, Grief knots, Half Bloods, and the European Death Knot.

Root-knot nematodes are plant parasites that can infect roots, causing abnormal growths. Honeydew is vulnerable to this kind of takeover. Management strategies include isolation and biological control measures like planting marigolds among the melons. Sometimes all you need is the right partner—you need to tie the knot.

Knots enter so many idioms. We get knots in our stomach, knots on our heads. There are songs, poems, and sculptures, all about knots. The Gordian knot is a famous puzzle, an impossible knot finally solved by cleaving it with a sword.

Mathematical knots are a field of study. They differ from material knots in that the ends are joined together so that they cannot be undone—even with a sword. If you study knot theory you get to use fancy terminology and talk of circles and three-dimensional Euclidean space.

Knots are worlds of possibility.

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You should be pleased to know that this week’s “Honey-Do” List is almost complete, though some liberties have been taken.

1. Mow the lawn. Don’t forget to edge it and bag the clippings.

2. Pick up fabric softener, a jug of milk, fruit, garbage bags, tortilla chips, salsa, air freshener, and clothesline. Use coupons and the store rewards card.

3. Oil the hinges to the basement door.

4. Clear all the calendars.

5. Clean the litter box and load the dishwasher.

6. Work on the next therapeutic exercise: Forging Consciousness in Your Relationship.

Now, shall we begin? Guess why you think your partner has decided to come to this appointment. Then I’ll mirror it. Don’t be shy.

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Instead of deep blue, Homer spoke of the wine-dark sea: a poetic phrase, one that may actually point to an interesting quirk of perception and language. If you don’t have a word for something, sometimes you can’t perceive it.

The ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones without a word for blue. Many languages lump both blue and green together into one word. Until a distinction between the two is made, a new word won’t emerge.

I wonder how many other things this is true of— if you’ve never experienced something before, can you still name it? Can you understand a word without experiencing it? Love. Satisfaction. Pain. Desire. Betrayal. Hope.

Can you understand?

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Green is the color of spring. It speaks of beginnings and fertility, tender shoots, delicate stems, and hungry new leaves. It’s youth and hope. It’s also the color of envy.

Language is a funny thing.

I remember what you were wearing when we first met. It was a honeydew green shirt and blue jeans so soft and faded they’d gone almost white.

Did you know that on the Color Wheel honeydew is a pastel tint of spring green? I think about that from time to time. It reminds me of that sunny May day, and how everything fell into place so perfectly.

The complementary color of spring green is rose. I know you prefer snapdragons, but I brought you some roses. I thought they’d brighten up the room. I thought they’d make you smile again.

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The origin of the word gangrene is linked to the concept of putrefaction. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with the color green, despite how it sounds. It’s only an accident of language that areas affected by gangrene may actually turn green. Black seems to be its dominant shade.

When tissue is deprived of blood for long enough, it becomes necrotic. It dies.

The three types of gangrene are dry, wet, and gas. Dry gangrene is often associated with bad circulation, with diabetes or long-term smoking. Another culprit is arterial blockage, some natural, some caused by surgical complications, foot binding, or tourniquet problems.

Gangrenous flesh is sometimes described as mummified. It blackens and shrivels; the nails of the toes or fingers turn brown or maybe a dull pea green. The affected areas may crust and bubble at the edges of the still-living tissue. The progression from healthy skin, to cold pallor, to death is visible. So is the pain.

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But you know all that. I can see it in your eyes. I’ve always admired those eyes. You’ve got lashes thicker than they’ve any right to be. And the color was always so clear and bright. Green. Soft and glistening, they’re a beautiful spring green—sweet like honeydew.

I’ll miss them the most.

 

AUTHOR BIO:Wendy Hammer has degrees in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ball State University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and teaches at a community college. She spends a lot of her free time at her favorite local bookstore with her writing group. More of her fiction can be found in a forthcoming issue of Plasma Frequency and on her blog at www.wendyhammer.com