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The Fruit of Zeus

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:13am

So my friend, Kelly, and I went for a long walk yesterday when all of a sudden, as we were on a pine-needle-laden side of the road, we felt squishy softness under our feet. We looked down and there was bright orange pulp all over the place, plus half-rotten round fruits, the tops of which I recognized as the tops of the then-green crabapples I had discovered around town about a month ago. But these things were definitely not crabapples. I had been wrong.

We looked up and saw a towering tree heavy with these small, orange fruits.

"What are they?" I asked Kelly, both of us 900 miles south from where we grew up.

"I don't know!" she answered, as mesmerized and intrigued as I.

"We have to get some so we can figure out what they are," I said, and we started jumping, to no avail. The branches were just too high.

I grabbed a crooked stick and hooked it over the closest branch so that I could pull it down and she could try to grab it. It was still beyond her grasp, but she jumped and jumped until she could snag a leaf, reveal the naked branch and then get a better hold. She eventually got a piece that had leaves and a couple fruits. We were laughing hysterically as traffic whizzed by and we were leaping into this tree.

"Why do I feel I know what tomorrow's post is going to be?" Kelly said, sweat on both our brows.

Well, it turns out that I happen to have a Fandex Family Field Guide to Trees at home. And it turns out that on page 65 I found a picture of this tree (Diospyros virginiana), its glossy green leaves and these exact orange fruits. And it turns out that we have discovered persimmons, a fruit I have neither seen nor tasted before.

According to the Field Guide:

Diospyrus, from the Greek for "fruit of Zeus," may refer to some trick of that god's for teaching patience--anyone who has had the mouth-filming, face-puckering, astringent, tannin-loaded experience of tasting a persimmon before it is thoroughly ripe learns once and for all to wait it out until the green persimmon turns first to amber, then to glaucous orange, and then to blackish purple. In the end, patience is rewarded--ultimately the fruit is sweet, juicy, and luscious.

Hello, Patience. Here we go again.

I left a message for Kelly telling her what I discovered and then adding, "And I know where there are two more trees like this, one at the community center and the other down that road by the light." And then it occurred to me. This was going to be like the figs, all over again.

I have to tell Richard. Richard is the one who went crazy about the figs after I introduced him to my secret tree. He then discovered seven fig trees in his neighbor's yard (that had been there for years and that he had never noticed before), and he even went out and bought six little fig trees of his own that he has since planted in his yard.

Wait 'til he hears about the persimmons.

In the meantime, Kelly and I need to know if anyone has had persimmons and what you like to do with them. Because something tells me I'm going to have a lot of them very soon! But, Richard, can I borrow your ladder?
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