The perilous persimmon is perfect

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Every year about this time my sister, Carol, would play the same trick on me. One would think that I would have caught on the third or fourth go round. But no, trusting child that I was, I fell for it every time!

Carol looked at me with her cool green eyes and said, “Jan, I know I tricked you before, but the persimmons are ripe now, really. Here, try one.” Once again, I bit into the green flesh, which drew my mouth into a spasm with its intense bitterness.

It seems persimmons have always caused me trouble, and this year has been no exception. Limbs of the tree in our new front yard almost touch the ground they are so laden with fruit, but they are ripening sporadically.

One at the top of the tree will ripen and be eaten by birds while I patiently wait to finally pick enough to make persimmon bread.

One day this week, I could wait no longer and decided to take matters into my own hands. The neighborhood was quiet and the dew still clung to the lawns and tree branches as I trekked out to my tree.

Just as the day before, the fruit on the lower branches hung heavy with just a hint of yellowing, but barely out of reach dangled one of the most perfect persimmons imaginable.

With that perfect persimmon in my bread, it would be most delicious. My mouth watered with the mere thought of baking such a wonderful treat, and I determined that this persimmon would soon render a lovely smell to my home as it bubbled in the oven.

While wearing one of my favorite comfy T-shirts and a pair of blue jean shorts, I poked around the laundry storage area for something to help me reach the precious fruit. Deciding against climbing a ladder with no one to steady it, my eyes lit on a long handled broom in the corner. Aha, this will be ideal for my project, I thought.

My first swing at the limb did not bring about the desired results of the persimmon floating gingerly into my hands. With this in mind, I determined to take more decisive action, so I reared back and gave that limb a whack that would have made my old softball coaches proud.

The persimmon tree let go of her prized possession, hurling the golden globe through the air. Before I could let go of the bat … uh, the broom, I mean … the lovely persimmon exploded like an orange water balloon filled with jelly. The sticky juice and pulp sloshed all over me.

Sheepishly, I looked around to see if any of the neighbors had noticed the dramatic conclusion to my harvesting efforts.

As I soaked my shirt in the bathroom sink, my face glowed at the humor of my morning mishap. I guess I’ll run to the grocery and make banana bread.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at