Saturday, November 06, 2004

Pickin' Persimmons

On a recent fine, clear, autumn day, I took the young'uns out to pick persimmons. Why? Because they were there. And they were beautiful. And we had permission. Permission fer pickin' purty persimmons. *grin*

Cruising through wine country, I saw a sign: FUYU PERSIMMONS U PICK. I thought it might be a fun excursion, despite the fact that (a) I only vaguely knew what a persimmon was, and (b) I had no idea what to do with them once we picked them.

Fully expecting these to be the acorn-shaped, kinda mushy fruit I've only known because of the Persimmon Bread my aunt would make, I was surprised to find these small, squat, little orange lumps that were hard as apples. The proprietor informed me that these were "Fuyu" persimmons, and they are eaten while hard and firm, with or without the skins.

Out we ventured to the Very Steep Slope of Death, buckets in hand, little kids hanging onto Mommy for balance and dear life, to experience the bounty of the Lord in the form of these curious fruits. Little hands reached up, twisted the small orange packages on their stems, and delightedly plucked the fruit, faces beaming as if they had just accomplished an amazing feat. And it is amazing, if you think about it.

Not wanting to go overboard with tons of produce I wouldn't know what to do with, we walked away with a modest amount:

(Oh, that tiny little lemon-looking thing in Rainbow's bucket? It's not a lemon. It's a Mexican Lime. So I'm told.)

Once home, I Googled and found this (includes a nice homeschooling unit on the Fuyu persimmon) and this (check out the daily values for fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C - WOW!) . We sliced and ate, and discovered that the Fuyus are Majorly Sweet. I mean, these actually qualify for that standard Grandma quote, "It's Nature's candy!"

So if you can find any Fuyu persimmon trees in your neck of the woods, or if your grocer carries these precious parcels of perfection, be sure to enjoy them. What a wonderful gift from autumn.


At November 7, 2004 at 7:05 AM, Blogger Meg said...

I'm not entirely sure I had ever even HEARD of a persimmon until reading your post! Thanks for the heads up!

At November 7, 2004 at 12:02 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

My Korean MIL is a huge persimmon fan. I guess they are very popular in Asia.

At November 7, 2004 at 1:39 PM, Blogger Mellie Helen said...

According to the "5-a-Day" site, persmimmons hail from ancient China. They were introduced to the U.S. in the 1880s. But it took until NOW for me to discover how delicious the Fuyus are!

At November 7, 2004 at 11:48 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

One of the more famous contemporary American poems:


In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down the newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew on the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down,
I teach her Chinese. Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I've forgotten.
Naked: I've forgotten.
Ni, wo: you me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn't ripe or sweet, I didn't eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun
inside, something golden, glowing,
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set them both on my bedroom windowsill,
where each morning a cardinal
sang. The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding
he was going blind,
my father would stay up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
I gave him the persimmons, swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents' cellar, I rummage, looking
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.

He's so happy that I've come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times
eyes closed. These I painted blind.
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

-- Li-Young Lee

At November 8, 2004 at 10:47 AM, Blogger Mellie Helen said...

Wow. That was awesome, Dawn. Thank you so much for sharing it.

At October 22, 2005 at 5:52 AM, Blogger coolhealth said...

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