Persimmons in Winter

Persimmons are a new fruit to me.  I began eating them only two years ago.  They were not widely available in grocery stores.  They are seasonal and show up in the produce aisle for a few short weeks in winter.  They are rare and expensive.  I treat myself anyway much like I treat myself to my childhood favorites – figs and pomegranates.

I have had to learn how to know when they are at their peak ripeness.  I’ve tasted a few before their prime, which left a fuzzy taste on. My tongue.  But their color – their color gives me hope for spring and brightens my mood.

Persimmons first came from Asia.  There are many varieties and colors ranging from yellow to chocolate brown.  The variety I enjoy is Hachiya, which is flame-orange and heart-shaped. Persimmons are now grown all over the world: Asia, Spain, Israel, Azerbaijan, Australia and in Florida and California in the United States.

Every year, I look forward to the winter, to the change of season.  But when the leaves fall, and the trees are bare, and cold sets in,  I begin to feel a distinct loneliness.  Nature had gone to sleep but I’m still wandering in the wilderness.  I just doesn’t seem right to me.  I take precautions for the winter gloom not to settle into my spirit.  Candles, twinkling lights, trips to the garden store to see greenery and bright berries – all these help to lift my mood.  But the persimmon is uniquely responsible for bringing springtime back to me.  I smell, taste, and swallow, and something inside me brightens and grows.

Persimmons in Winter

The winter sky
Holds no color.
Cloudless and icy gray,
It is a blank canvas
For the bare branches
That crisscross and rise up
In the frozen air
Stitching the sky
With sharp lines and angles,
A sketch of the woodlands
In black and white.
There is no sound,
No smell, no color -
The air is empty.
The trees stand in solitude,
Perfect peaceful desolation.

In my black woolen coat
Hat, scarf, and mittens,
I walk the wide expanse of the meadow
Where all traces of green
Have leeched back
Into the soil till spring.
Cold stones and ice clods
Crunch under my feet.
Most animals have gone to hibernate,
Birds dip through the air
In quick silence,
A lone crow calls out
With his broken voice.
This winter loneliness
Seeps into my exposed skin
And settles there.

I walk back home
To find some respite from the cold,
To embrace some color.
A small bowl of persimmons
Sits on my kitchen table.
Their flame-like hue
Draws me close and warms me.
I touch their waxy skins
And immediately feel their warmth.
They are ripe and ready,
I choose one to enjoy.
Peel and cut in thick rounds.
In the center of each
Is an eight-petaled flower.
For this brief moment,
I return to spring.