Nov. 4, 2016

Persimmons!

The lovely Fuyu persimmon in this picture, artfully posed with a dandy bunch of marigolds our next door neighbors, Erica and Javier, gave us as a thank you for picking up Halloween candy wrappers from their driveway as we were picking them up off our parkway, was handed to me by our daughter, Leah, a few days ago. Holding this persimmon kicked off a veritable storm of memories, which I’ll share with you.

Some years ago, my Dad lived on four acres of lime trees in Valley Center, a community up in the hills between Temecula and San Diego. As Valley Center is not far from the Mexican border, my Dad always had plenty of guys who were looking for work to help him with the trees. He would practice his Spanish with them, give them food, spend time talking to them about their lives in the country they had just left and what they hoped to find in America. Yes, all illegals. My Dad loved to talk to people, any kind of people. Many of these guys who wandered into his yard were from Guatemala, which is a very long way from the border. They told tales of murder, desperate hunger, desperadoes waiting to rob these migrants and were beyond grateful for a few sandwiches and a bottle of water. But I digress...we were talking about persimmons.

While he still lived in Valley Center, before his wife passed away and he moved to Ajijic, Mexico himself, he had an extremely prolific Hachiya persimmon tree. I would go down for the day to visit them and he would give me a big bag of persimmons. I would send some to my cousin, Cindy, eat a lot of them and occasionally make persimmon cookies. I’m still mad that he sold that lovely home and moved to Mexico. He’s been in heaven for a while now, but I treasure the memories of those days in Valley Center and Dad’s persimmons.

At one time a persimmon tree grew down in the lower reaches of our yard.  It sat down there doing its job for years and then one day, apparently tired of life, it broke in two. What a disappointment, as the fruit was delicious and I had finally learned how to do something with them, other than just wait greedily for them to ripen and devour them.

Fortunately, it was overlooked.  No one was in a hurry to tear it away from the last shred of stump the tree was still clinging to.  For a while, I forgot about it and then one morning walked down to look at it, and discovered there was more fruit than I could count!  Hard and pale orange, but they would ripen beautifully by November. Persimmon cookies!

One windstorm too many separated the tenuous coupling between branch and root and that was that.  Some years later I planted a persimmon down there in the lower region, a Fuyu. I have never had even one persimmon from that tree. It’s really in a bad spot, forced to fend for itself as far as water and sunlight are concerned. If it ever bears anything, the squirrels get to them first.

It struck me that the broken persimmon is a picture of what God could do with our lives if we would let Him have his way.  If we could cling to Him, as the persimmon clung, tenaciously, to its roots, God would fill us with his grace, his spirit, and we, too, would provide a harvest of good fruit; love and peace, patience and self-control, joy… oh yes! a huge crop of joy, regardless of circumstances.

Now that our persimmon tree is gone, Dad and his persimmon tree are no longer within my reach, I look longingly at the few persimmon trees in our area and consider introducing myself to their owners, somewhat like Oliver Twist, “Please sir, could I have some more?”

Persimmon Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup persimmon pulp (hachiya persimmons, not fuyu)

2 cups flour

½ tsp. cinnamon (I like cinnamon so my tsp. tends to be heaping)

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

½ cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

You can also add a cup of chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or some of all three.

Puree persimmon pulp in blender. If you cut the top of the persimmon and squeeze the ripe fruit over the blender, it will spill right out. Then dissolve the soda into the pulp.  It will become very thick, like pudding.

Blend together flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.

Stir in dry ingredients, persimmon-soda mixture and raisins/nuts/chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto well-greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 10-12 minutes.  Makes 5-6 dozen.  These freeze well.

Drop a dozen in a Ziploc bag and give them to someone you love, or someone who needs to be loved. Or hide them in your freezer and eat them all yourself one rainy day (I use that term laughingly as Southern Californians get a spoonful of rain infrequently) in February.