Honeydew melon: four stars for what is usually a three and a half star fruit. Picture a three-dimensional cube. Each axis of this cube represents a different, orthogonal, aspect of the pleasure derived from the consuming fruit. The first axis is called “the juice dimension”, and represents the refreshing qualities and juiciness of the fruit. The second axis is called “the taste dimension”, and represents the perceived sweetness and deliciousness of the fruit. The third axis is called “the convenience dimension”, and represents the convenience and amount of preparation required to consume the fruit. For advanced students of the fruits, there are higher dimensions available, but for pedagogical purposes we restrict ourselves to these three dimensions here. Now, if we were to take our favourite fruits and plot them on the Fruit Cube, we would notice the emergence of some interesting patterns. Citrus fruits, for example, tend to have high juice and taste factors, but their convenience factors vary significantly. Different apple cultivars, on the other hand, are highly convenient but range anywhere from bland and dry to delicious and wet. Now consider the melons depicted inside the Fruit Cube: they are a small sphere located roughly in the juicy, flavoursome and inconvenient octant. Even cucumbers, otherwise known as “salad melons”, are located on the outskirts of the melon zone of the Fruit Cube. Do not make the mistake of assuming that all melons are interchangeable, however. Every melon has its own purpose. This specimen was a real treat, and I particularly enjoyed its crisp texture.
We continued south, along the edge of the salt marsh. When the salt marsh was replaced by the sea, we followed the coast until we came upon the mouth of a great river. The scene was familiar, except the river seemed much larger than in my memory. We walked along the river a while, until we came across a set of four large, flat-edged stones. The megaliths were roughly cube-shaped, and on this side two were spaced roughly ten metres apart. The other two megaliths stood at corresponding points on the other side of the river. There was an inscription carved into the closest megalith: this structure was all that remained of Sutton Bridge. I threw a pickled plum at the megalith on the other side of the riverbank. The plum came short, falling into the river before being carried away by the current. Blotch licked his or her lips.
We could not cross the river here. My eldest nephew may have been able to swim across, but I doubted my own ability, let alone Blotch and the produce cart’s ability to make the crossing. My eldest nephew suggested that I could use the empty orange juice barrel as an aid to buoyancy.
We continued along the river bank, away from the coast and away from Sutton Bridge. On the other side of the river, what remained of the levee was covered in dense vines. Here there was a confluence, where a canal joined the river. I did not remember such a canal being so close to Sutton Bridge. We were now following the canal and walking west. We wanted to be walking south-east. We sat down and ate our dinner: orange juice for my eldest nephew, while Blotch and I ate boiled tomatoes and pickled plums.
We could not continue walking in the wrong direction much longer: we needed to find some other way to cross the canal or the river or both. True, the empty orange juice barrel might help Blotch and I cross, as my nephew suggested, but what about the full orange juice barrel? I could afford to leave my pickled plums and tomatoes – I would find more food – but my nephew would starve without his orange juice. It occurred to me that if we emptied the barrel of pickled plums, we could tie the juice barrel to the two empty barrels, and we could all float over in comfort. We just needed some rope.
That evening when the tide receded, I instructed my eldest nephew to swim over to the other side of the river bank and gather as many vines as he could carry. He used the empty barrel to swim over, and started filling the barrel with vines. As he picked the vines, he found a melon hidden underneath the leaves. He bowled it over towards me, and it landed in the river, then floated over to the bank near me. I instructed him to search for more, and soon enough he had sent sixty-four melons, and I had received fifty. The remaining fourteen had either floated too quickly, or had not floated at all. He then returned with the barrel, full of vines.
With my machete, I sliced the top off each melon. We now had fifty open melons, along with fifty melon tops. I now instructed my nephew to scoop out the seeds from each open melon and give them to Blotch, and also scoop out the flesh into the empty orange juice barrel. Meanwhile, I started a fire, which I used to heat up the bucket of pitch. Next we hammered a nail into each melon top, and then bent the nail back on itself. We then dipped each nailed melon top in the bucket of pitch, and placed it on its corresponding open melon. We now had fifty closed, empty melons with bent nails sticking out. We arranged these closed melons, with the nails on top, into a rectangular matrix of five melons by ten melons. My nephew and I tied each row of melons together with the vines, using the bent nails as an anchor point. We then tied each row to its neighbouring row, and each column together. We poured the rest of the pitch on each nail, and left it to dry. We now had a melon raft with a floor space of fifty square melons, but its maiden voyage would have to wait until the morning.