I’ve waxed whimsical on autumn before, and I’ve celebrated wonder-filled winter aplenty, but what of the blurry overlap between the two? Well, today I’d like to pause a moment betwixt both current seasons. Or astride the two, one foot in autumn and the other in winter. To borrow a morning metaphor from my breakfast, let’s pause for persimmons (as a way to grok — and hopefully embrace — our present seasonality.)
For the time being let’s sidestep the vexing fact that almost a dozen years into cultivating three persimmon trees in Rosslyn’s orchard we’ve never produced a single edible persimmon. Instead let’s look at persimmoning in terms of this morning’s sweet and sour, ripe and rotten persimmon episode.
I’ve been monitoring two pretty persimmons in the fruit bowl. I’ve been checking them daily for ripeness. Firm, firm, firm, less firm, slightly supple, soft, ready! Or so I thought this morning. I lifted the first much anticipated fruit in the lightless shadows of 5:00am. If felt perfect. I gathered the second and grabbed a small cutting board. I prefer to allow my mornings to illuminate naturally, calibrating by circadian rhythms holistically, so I generally avoid turning on the lights, even this time of year when 5:00am is still shoe polish dark. As I prepared to plunge a knife into the first persimmon, I detected something unsettling. The slick surface of the persimmon had a fuzzy spot about the size of a quarter. I turned on the light, low, but enough to show that I’d missed my moment with the persimmon. It was rotten. Moldy. Both. I’d literally been checking daily, often lifting both fruit from the bowl to examine them, but somehow this previously perfect fruit had suddenly become rotten. The second fruit showed not fuzzy rot spot. I carefully cut out the leafy stem, and sniffed the inside of the persimmon. Perfection. Somewhere between the consistency of gelatinous custard and viscous liquid, the persimmon was divine.
At this point seasoned persimmon aficionados are aware that I’ve been recounting an experience with hachiya persimmons (rather than fuyu persimmons), and the photos portray the latter. You are correct astute reader/persimmon connoisseur. And as my prologue likely betrays this morning’s experience was not well suited to photography. But it did remind me of a previous persimmon apropos of the actual topic I’d expected to explore in this post (but have so far mostly skirted.) And that memory, of a similar morning anticipating and then partially enjoying a persimmon is what lead me to these photographs. Why partially, I can hear you think. I partially enjoyed that persimmon, a fuyu persimmon, because the first few slices were ripe and delicious. But partway though the small fruit the sweet turned to astringent. And this puckering experience is a sure sign that the fruit is not yet fully ripe. Now, lest I’m misleading you again, I’m sorry to say, the photographs in this post are not of that persimmon either, though they are, in fact a fuyu persimmon. And, as a discerning eye might note, this photographed persimmon was delicious throughout.
So why all the persimmoning? The memories of this morning’s fruit and the part ripe, part unripe fruit a year or two ago, offer me a glimpse into the sort of autumn-into-winter transition we’re in right now. Almost ready, almost ready, over ready! And sometimes ripe and unripe at the same time. And, as I understand it, persimmons are often culturally associated with joy, good fortune, and longevity. I am hopeful that our present season change, still in limbo, but creeping closer and closer to that transition from autumning to wintering, from autumn vibes to winter vibes, might — like persimmons in the best of circumstances — may portent joy, goof fortune, and longevity for the rehabilitation projects underway in the icehouse, the boathouse, and our home.
Willing Winter Away a Little Longer
There’s something meditative about this time of year, a marginal meditation on interstices, on the span between autumn and winter, harvesting and larder hunting, biking and skiing, Thanksgiving and Christmas,… This liminal space is tied with winter-to-spring for most dramatic transitions in the circle of seasonality. And yet some years, this year, the switch is far from binary. There are moments when we appear to be on the crux, the hinging moment between the most abundant season and the leanest season. And other moments we’re currently in both concurrently. Ripe and rotten. Well, not rotten, really, but in terms of exterior carpentry, the going gets exponentially more challenging once snow arrives and temperatures plunge.
And so, for a while longer, we’re willing winter away. Tomorrow we’ll be installing the first round of spray foam insulation inside the icehouse, and we’ll *hopefully* begin installing the ZIP System paneling outside the icehouse. In other words, we’re getting really close to having the icehouse ready for winterier weather. The boathouse isn’t really winterizable, however, and temperate conditions are a huge boon as we forge ahead. At the risk of temping fate I’ll admit that it’s almost as if nature is holding her breath, stalling between autumn and winter. With luck, we’ll be able to take advantage of a little more borrowed time. But she can’t hold her breath forever, and we’re all aware of that…
This non-harvest, autumning haiku was born of Carley‘s lethargic mid-morning siesta by the fireplace. Contentment, canine style. It’s a tough life.
Between blushing vegetation
and gingerbread outbuildings,
what name for this season?
Hustling pre-hibernation and
melting flurries with breath,
what post apple appellation?
What pre skating designation?
I echo my own refrain again
into the autumn interstices
ringing with wintering song.
Willing Autumn Linger Longer
Like ripening persimmons, the transition from unripe to overripe happens whether we’re watching for it or not. Likewise fall vibes have been exiting gradually, and winter’s stark contrasts have been insinuating themselves into the autumnless voids. It’s inevitable that winter will arrive, and it will be glorious in its own right when it does. But here’s hoping fortune smiles upon us a little longer, that we can dwell in this construction-centric liminality for another week or three. Or right up until Christmas!
What do you think?