Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Little Things Make My Day

I have always been enchanted by persimmons. I'd never actually had one, but I would read about them in books, and my mouth would water (or pucker, depending on how ripe the author wrote them). Anything wild...muscadines, blackberries...if you could find it growing wild, I wanted it. The muscadines and blackberries we had in droves. To this day the scent of muscadines transports me instantly back 20 years or more. But persimmons...I never did get to try a persimmon.

Today I took Ethan and Aidan with me to get groceries. We stopped at one of the few stores in town that's started stocking spinach again (just an aside, and I'll try to make it quick, but holy cow...I didn't realize how many of my recipes used spinach until I couldn't get it anymore. I was adrift, and hadn't a clue what to do for dinner half the time).

When we got out of the van, I noticed the pick up truck next to us had a bushel full of (what I guessed were) persimmons in the back. Oh, how I envied the driver of that truck! They were beautiful. I pointed them out to Ethan, and we went on inside.

When we came back out to the van, the man whose truck it was came up to us with a gorgeous, squishy, glowing orb of persimmon in his hand. He held it out to Ethan, who poked it suspiciously. "It's a persimmon," I told him, praying I was right, and therefore wouldn't look stupid.

"Want to take one home?" then man asked us.

Would we! I was delighted! I accepted it enthusiastically and Ethan and I both thanked him profusely.

What a charming man he was! We chatted for a few minutes about his persimmons. He told us he had a tree in his yard loaded full of them. He said they were extra sweet this year. He had just sold a bushel full of them to the store (which made me very happy - I like it when the stores support local folks). He said most people don't even know what a persimmon is anymore - especially the younger generation (he said, pointing to me, and I was very flattered to be thought of as a younger anything!).

He wished us well, and we went on our way, thanking him again.

And then came the fun part. Because I haven't a clue how to eat a persimmon!

So I buckled Ethan into his chair and armed myself with a cutting board and my favorite knife. I cut into the persimmon, and the pulp started leaking out of it and onto the board. I went to get a bowl, and squeezed it in there. I tasted a drop. It was wonderful - everything I thought a persimmon would be. I fished one of the more solid pieces out and handed it to Ethan. He gamely tried it, and after chewing for a second, announced in a panic that it had strings and before I could stop him, he spit it out into the bowl and scrubbed his tongue with his fingers. So my lovely persimmon was contaminated with toddler spit. I could have cried.

I tell myself that at least he tried it, which is better than you can typically hope for from a toddler. But I still can't help but wish that the outcome had been different.

Regardless - the fact that for one brief shining moment I had an actual persimmon, and I did get to taste it after all, even if it was only a drop; and even more, that it was given to us in a rare, small-town sort of kindness by a perfect stranger...well. It still makes my heart swell.

And I hereby resolve that my children will know the taste of wild things. Even if they don't love muscadines (because really, I'm not kidding myself - I know they're not for everyone), I hope one day they'll catch a whiff of them at a store, and it will make them think of childhood.


Dave said...

Ignorant spouse alert - I don't even know what a muscadine is. I know how to say and spell it, but if one fell from the sky and hit me in the noggin, I wouldn't recognize it except for it being an unwelcome projectile that hit me unceremoniously in the cabeza.

mommy said...

They're wild grapes, sort of. They grew in the woods at the school I went to, and also in the woods behind our neighborhood.

I thought they were wonderful, but as produce goes, they're kind of gamey (if that's a word that can apply to vegetation). Very strong and distinctive taste.

I'm certain they grow here in Texas, because I've seen them at the store, and as prolific as they were in Georgia, I only ever saw them at farm stands. If I see them again, I'll get some, and you can try them.


Kerrie said...

Oh I'm SO glad Dave asked because I was wondering what the heck a muscadine was too!
That was beautifully written Ami! I swear I could see and smell the persimmons as I read it. :-)