A Good Year for Persimmons
Sendai is a comfortable-sized city to live in. It has enough people to allow for good schools and hospitals, healthy public transportation systems, and a wide variety of entertainment. Even though it tries to present a cosmopolitan face, many of Sendai’s residents grew up on neighboring farms or along the coast as fishermen. So, in their bones they are still closely connected to the seasons and what they have offer.
A marvelous woman in my apartment complex was raised in the Miyagi countryside with her four siblings, parents and grandparents. She often goes back to her family farm, returning with copious amounts of vegetables and rice. But most days she stays in Sendai and heads out almost pre-dawn to find what edibles she can in the neighborhood forest park or near the railway tracks or small river below our home.
“Ah, it is spring,” she will say, “time for fiddleheads and bamboo shoots.”
“Now summer has come and I can get mushrooms, plums for pickling, dandelion greens and cresson.”
“Autumn, beautiful autumn and its persimmons, what could be more vivid in color and sweet in taste?”
“Winter, I will scrounge around for whatever roots I can find. On some days I am lucky, some days not.”
The other morning she banged on my door very early to display the clutch of branches laden with persimmons she had just nicked from the neighbor’s tree. Later in the day when I returned home, she was on her veranda hard at work removing the precious fruit. She had been at it all day.
“Little Kazuki helped me this afternoon,” she proudly told me. “He’s only five, but he scrambled up the tree like a pro. He helped me break branches and hand down hundreds of of golden gems. He was wonderful,” she said, obviously impressed.
“This year is really good for persimmons,” she continued. “I have 800 so far. I am not sure where I will hang them to dry. My balcony has a lot and I need space for my laundry. My apartment is already pretty full, too. What am I going to do?” she asks with a sigh. But knowing this imaginative woman, she will find a way.
And also knowing her big-hearted generosity, I am sure in a few weeks many folks in the neighborhood will get a fine share of dried persimmons, enough for themselves, and plenty to share.