In Search Of Cantaloupe – A Cycling Story

cut cantelope

7:30 a.m. A day out of Bar Harbor on a bicycle trip to Illinois. I pedaled over to a produce stand and asked if they had any cantaloupe.

“Why, this is a produce stand, son.”

“I can sell you a pepper…”

“I can sell you a head o’ lettuce…”

“I can sell you beans.”

“I can’t sell you no…”


“You need a fruit stand if you want a…”


It was John and Jr. who taught me that fruit and produce don’t go together.

“They’re too different to sell together.”

“If we sold fruit, we’d be a fruit stand…”

“and if you sell fruit and produce…”

“why, then you’re a market…”

“and we don’t want to expand.”

“Uncontrolled growth is trouble.”

“We’re simple people.”

John and Jr. were father and son. Side by side, finishing each other’s thoughts. Overalls over flannel shirts and bandanas in their pockets. Heavy workboots well taken care of. The hands of produce-men.

“Would you like some water for your bottles?”

“It’s well water.”

“We have the best well in Maine.”

“The coldest, too.”

“Some people buy those…”

“water purification machines.”

“But we don’t.”

“Don’t need it.”

“We have the best well in Maine.”

“The coldest, too.”

Jr. took the bottles into the house to fill them.

“Sure is a fancy bicycle you have there. Why, we never had anything like that when I was younger. Had a big balloon-tired bicycle. One speed. I used it to court Jr.’s mother. Yep, I used to ride that bicycle all over these hills. When Jr. got old enough he’d sit on my shoulders and we’d ride for hours. I never got tired, not then.Course, we don’t do that much anymore.”

John was about 85 and Jr. some twenty years younger; the hills were much older than either of them and about as steep as the angle of John’s nose, which seemed to be getting longer with every new word.

Jr. came back with the filled bottles.

“Is that bicycle still in the barn, Jr.? We haven’t been on a ride in a while [about 60-some years, I’d wager] It’s about time we pumped those tires up and went for a ride. Haven’t been to Camden in a while now, we could ride there. Whatdya think, Jr.?”

By this time, the twinkle in John’s eye had gone supernova.

“Sounds like fun, Dad, but if you think I’m going to push you up those hills like I used to… Why I’d just as soon stay home and mind the stand.”

They were talking to each other but looking at me.

“Besides, I want my own bicycle. It’s none too comfortable on your shoulders. Produce is good we can afford another bike. It’s about time I learned to ride on my own.”

“Why have two bicycles when we can get by just fine on one? If you want to pedal so much, I’ll ride on your shoulders.”

“If you think I’m riding around town with you on my shoulders, you’re a bit touched. What would Mother have thought if you had come courting with Granddad on your shoulders? No sir, I’ll ride my own bicycle, thank you very much.”

For another twenty minutes, seemed like five, John and Jr. discussed their many rides together on that single bicycle. And then it was time to go.

I asked if they knew where I could find a fruit stand.

There weren’t any around, they said none of any merit, anyway. But how would I like a tomato?

“Tomatoes are really a fruit, you know.”

They carried tomatoes, a concession to the expansionists.

Armed with a tomato “Have a squash on the house.”

“Did I mention how squash is the most versatile type of produce?”

…and a squash

…and the best well water in Maine

…the coldest, too!

I pedaled off in search of cantaloupe.

About The Author: Jim Norris lives with his wife, 4 kids, and 10 bicycles in Springfield, IL.

Photo by House of Sims


0 thoughts on “In Search Of Cantaloupe – A Cycling Story

  1. Kevin Hopps says:


    Happy New Year! Thanks for all your blogs in 2010… looking forward to 2011 and hearing more about your adventures.

    Keep riding; keep inspiring…


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