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Persimmons… friend or foe?

In November of 2009 a boy named Brady invited me out to his farm home in Creal Springs, Illinois, which is roughly 45 mins outside of Carbondale, Illinois (SIUC) where I lived at the time, and where we met.

Brady’s home was a natural paradise and plant lover’s dream as the farm had once been owned by a passionate Horticulture professor who taught at John A. Logan community college. I remember being in awe of all the edible plants, the feisty wildlife, and the general beauty of the midwestern landscape upon that first visit.

As we wandered the property, past the bamboo grove, and towards the beaver dam, we walked by a persimmon tree. Brady pulled two fruits from the tree and said, “You must try one.” Without thinking twice, I took a bite, then roughly 15 seconds later I started feeling a strange numbness in my mouth and suddenly I was unable to produce saliva and swallowing no longer felt natural. My first thought was “This is it; I’ve been poisoned. How could I be so naïve?”

When I turned to look at Brady, he was confused, and I noticed he also seemed to be sharing this experience. I quickly confessed what was happening.  He also confessed something wasn’t right. Yet we stood there staring at each other wondering what would happen next. Fortunately, within roughly 60 seconds everything seemed alright, and we continued as if nothing had happened.

Following this event many days and years passed but one day when reading about persimmons in a book we found out that unripe Persimmons can be sour and create a numbing sensation within one’s mouth if picked early…

After reading this I knew it was true that Brady wasn’t trying to poison me with this forbidden fruit, he was trying to woo me––and it worked!

Inspired by the poem we read this week at the Summer Tales Book Club: Persimmons by Li-Young Lee.