Friday, July 19, 2013

Being Ripe

Picnic in Madrid, the day before we flew home from Camino. 

Did you know a watermelon is a kind of fruit called a pepo: a kind of berry with a thick rind and a fleshy center? (Cucumbers and pumpkins are pepos too.)

I didn't know that (until I idly googled "watermelon").

They are also indehiscent fruit, which means they don't split open when they're ripe. In fact, after we'd bought this watermelon at a little fruit store and carried it down the street a ways, we realized we'd better go back and ask the owner to cut it for us.

As you can see here, figs are dehiscent. 
(D. H. Lawrence wrote a poem about figs splitting open, which gets my vote for  Purplest Overripe Poem Ever, not to mention its excrescent sexism.)
"Ripeness is all" is a line about accepting death (and life), from Shakespeare's King Lear (act V, scene II):
"Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all."

When I looked it up, I found this rumination from Maurice Sendak (links to a round-up of his quotes and art):
SENDAK: My big concern is me and what do I do now until the time of my death. That is valid. That is useful. That is beautiful. That is creative. And also, I want to be free again. I want to be free like when I was a kid, working with my brother and making toy airplanes and a whole model of the World's Fair in 1939 out of wax.
Where we just had fun. What I mean by this is I've had my career. I've had my success. God willing, it should have happened to Herman Melville who deserved it a great deal more, you know? Imagine him being on Bill Moyers' show. Nothing good happened to Herman Melville.
I want to see me to the end working, living for myself. Ripeness is all. Now, interpreting what ripeness is our own individual problem. 
MOYERS: That quote of Shakespeare, do you remember the whole quote? 
SENDAK: "Men must endure their going hence as... even as their coming hither. Ripeness is all."So, what is the point of it all? Not leaving legacies. But being ripe. Being ripe. 
MOYERS: Being ripe? Explore that with me. You don't feel ripe?
SENDAK: I am getting riper. I mean, life has only gotten better personally for me as I've gotten older. I mean, being young was such a gross waste of time. I was just such a miserable, miserable person.And so when people say, "What age would you like to go back to?" I say, "Well, maybe 69."
--From an interview with Bill Moyers, 2004. Sendak died in 2012, at the age of 83.


poodletail said...

Ripe! Yes!

bink said...

If only we could have young bodies and ripe minds! There are things like carving stone that I am so ripe for... but my body seems overripe for. Still, in general, I love getting riper... and getting better... and being happier! Age has it's benefits!

Fresca said...

And, hey, Sendak says it gets even better around 69 y.o.!