Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...


Woke up to fog outside this morning. Always a sign that fall is trying to creep in.
But summer isn't willing to give up the ghost just yet. Yesterday it was actually dang hot, well into the 90's. We had been experiencing a nice cool down the past 2 weeks. One morning it was a bathrobe wrapping 38 degrees. So this little blast of heat can't be considered a true "Indian Summer", since we have yet to have a frost first...ahhh, but it's coming. The leaves are changing, the acorns and walnuts are dropping with every little breeze making for some very noisy days as they fall on my tin roofed garage and barns.

The younguns got in a hurry with the Persimmon Prognosticator and brought one of the little wild fruits into the house to see what it had to say about the upcoming winter this past Sunday. Like Indian Summers, these little morsels ain't kosher until they've been hit with frost- the cold concentrating the sugar content and making them (in my opinion) a gooey tasty treat. Until then, though they may have a nice, translucent orange glow and may look ripe, they will still pucker you up at first bite. (The photo above shows a very much UNripe persimmon, much like the one my younguns brought in.)
Nevertheless, the younguns figured the pits would have already come to a concensus about winter and tore into the thing and picked out the big, slippery seeds.

Mom's got the strongest jaw so it was my job to chomp down lightly on one in order to split it. That's where the answer is-inside the seed. How the little fetal seedling inside is positioned tells you what kind of winter is ahead. It's an old Ozark method and after doing it for 20 falls now, I've found the persimmon to be surpringly accurate! And not with just a broad generalized prediction. These guys are into "micro-climates". A persimmon growing a hundred miles north may tell a different tale than the ones in our big backyard.

So what did we see? A spork. It was more of a spoon, though, than a true spork, the tips of the baby leaves just barely splayed. Others might say it was a spoon, but I scrutinize these things very closely.
So what's the interpretation?
More snow than ice. But ice is on the menu sometime this winter, but not enough to worry about.

The tradition uses cutlery as a guide and here are the basic definitions:

Spoon- (the leaves are broad and lay neatly atop one another, and really look like a tiny spoon with a handle) you'll be shoveling snow.
Fork- (where the leaf tips are clearly apart) you'll be chopping ice.
Knife- (the leaves are overlapped and narrow) it'll be a cold, windy winter, as in "cuts like a knife."

Any variation on these 3 basic forms allow to fine tune the prediction, depending on the expertise of the viewer. The winter we had the worst ice storm ever, about 15 or so years ago, the persimmon seed showed a very well defined 2 tined fork that fall. That was when I was pretty much sold on these little guys and their fortune telling. We don't see knives very often, but when we do...it's almost always a dry and COLD winter.

Now I've never split one so early in the season so I don't know if that will have any bearing on the results. After our first real frost, I'll do another check and see if this initial prediction holds. But until then, the younguns are looking forward to good sledding ahead!

UPDATE: I found a story about persimmons and predicting weather here. Their interpretation of the fork is different, but this might be a local variance. Here in the Ozarks it means ice storms. A young gal put the folklore to the test via her Science Fair project! Great idea and surprizing results. (Well, not to us, though!)

7 Comments:

Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

That was an interesting lesson. We can't grow persimmons here - not hot enough - but I buy them and always put them in the freezer first. Then they come out nice and mushy and sweet.

10/03/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Are those the Japanese type (Fuyu)?
I dunno if the rules would apply to them. Maybe predicting the winter in Yokahama or Tokyo?
I love our little wild variety. So versatile- I make cookies from the pulp, make a type of fruit leather/roll-up snack, candied the fruits whole in jars and have even made a brandy/liquer type beverage out of them. And it's all free for the taking by the bucketload.
Of course, they're great just as is.
I even once attempted to make erzatz coffee from the roasted seeds. Ugh...an acquired taste! It would do in serious hardtimes, though.

10/03/2006 12:35 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

More persimmon pictures! I've never seen one. Take a photo of the inside!

10/03/2006 1:42 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Never seen one? Don't they have them in Indiana?
I'll try to get a pic of the seed, but it maybe tough to get a good tight shot, since they are small,relatively speaking-About the size of a man's thumbnail-and my dimestore digital is for crap when doing close shots like that.

10/03/2006 1:47 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I've eaten them in California. Not my favorite.
I want you to give us another "go" at the winter prediction when they get ripe.... this really has my attention!

10/03/2006 3:35 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

The ones out there, Pam, are the japanese variety...world of difference. I wasn't too impressed with them, but Pat has the right idea of sticking them in the freezer for awhile first. I'm sure that helps with the flavor.

Ours are smaller, about the size if a jawbreaker.After a good frost the inner pulp is a honey sweet nutty flavored goo. Hard to describe. But they can be addictive. : )

10/03/2006 10:56 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

No, Liz, just the regular persimmons. I can't stand the fuyus.

10/04/2006 11:19 AM  

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