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MARY’S MEANDERINGS: Dec 11 — ‘In the Know’ about Persimmons

You may already be familiar with persimmons, knowing how they make your mouth pucker up if you eat them before they are soft and ripe, and best tasting after the first frost.

As kids, no one need tell us. We grew up knowing this and needed no reminding. Neither was it necessary for us to search very far in our exploring. We knew the location of every tree.

It was never too cold…if we were looking for something to do, to “strike out,” down the road, across the field, down a path, take a short cut, across the railroad track, up the hill, a little piece, close to the old coal dump, by the trestle, a little ways from the company store, not far from the post office, across the bridge that crosses the creek…close to our house, to explore and be entertained.

“Our” persimmon tree was close, across the road, and we knew exactly when to check it out. Not because we liked the taste of persimmons. It was something to do…our entertainment.

Growing up, as kids, we could also direct you to the wild paw-paw bushes that grew annually down by the side of the railroad tracks, the red hall bushes, red but tasteless, and the sweet gum trees. We knew where every edible morsel was located within a short distance of where we lived.

Have you ever tasted persimmons that have not quite ripened? Have you ever chewed sweet gum growing from the trunk of a sweet gum tree? Have you eaten red hall berries, probably called by another name by some? Well, all of these will put a bad taste in your mouth, but as kids, we weren’t big on taste, were were just looking for something to do. This was our entertainment.

Some time ago I drove by “our” persimmon tree located across the road from where we used to live. Our house is gone, torn down, but “our” persimmon tree is still standing…almost rooted out by the big cedar trees. I slowed down when I saw the sign…MEN WORKING. I noticed branches and leaves scattered along the side of the road. Road workers were trimming on both sides, and although I knew it was for safety reasons, I was a bit unhappy when I noticed only a few persimmons still holding onto the tree limbs. In the cutting and trimming process, the working crew had shaken the persimmons from the tree.

When coming back home, I stopped and when I glanced down, I saw a carpet of persimmons under my feet. I picked up one and plopped it in my mouth; soon realizing I had never acquired a taste for this mature and wrinkled, sugary-sweet fruit, but just like we did as kids growing up…I cracked open a seed and there it was…a tiny spoon!

Growing up in this area, as I did, you’re familiar with persimmons? Right? Then you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll remember…the feeling, the thrill of finding that little spoon inside the persimmon seed.