For me persimmons have always been a marker, a sign that it’s finally Fall. There are two persimmon trees on my parent’s farm and, growing up, I loved their short-lived fruit. Like blackberries in the Spring, the fruit seemed to appear overnight, take forever to ripen, and then disappear just as quickly, rotting in the sun or picked away by animals. But there was a moment of luscious, juicy fruit. And that moment was when the relentless Texas Summer had finally softened, when school had been dragging on for months, when Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were in sight.
There were other Fall fruits: pears, plums and grapes. None seemed as special as persimmons though. Maybe it’s because in those days they weren’t in the grocery stores or at the farm stands; at least not in my neck of the woods. In fact, I don’t think I saw a persimmon in a market until I was living in New York in the 1990s and I’ve still never bought one. I suspect it would be like drinking “store bought” milk for me–a pale imitation of the thing I grew up with.
I came across these slightly crushed fruits while I was walking the dogs in the large suburban park near our home. Nine year old Me would have scooped one up, sniffed and squeezed it, and if it had seemed ripe, bit into it. I would have been cautious, avoiding the seeds and tasting for ripeness. Because an unripe persimmon “will drive a man’s mouth awrie with much torment, but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as the apricot.” But I’m not nine and these fallen fruits were on the ground in a public park. I looked longingly at the fruit on the branches well out of my reach, sighed, and went back to being dragged from squirrel to squirrel by the dogs, thinking they didn’t look quite ripe anyway.
Wild Peaches, by Elinore Wylie
The months between the cherries and the peaches
– excerpt from stanza III