Persimmons are my grandfather Yates. He sliced them sideways, which, like an apple, leaves a star. With his favorite knife wired together and stained from years of use, he sliced them so thin that after drying the fruit looked like stained glass windows. He dried them on wire racks attached in a spiral staircase around the wood stove pipe. His own pipe he gripped between his brown pier stump teeth.
This time of year he must have been picking them before the birds and settling them into their 12 step drying program. Around December, each family member would receive the fruits of his labors: dried apples, quince, and the most coveted, translucent persimmons. The jars in which he sent them once held pimentos, or pickles, or marinated artichoke hearts. But now thanks to a new masking tape label, the contents were clear: love, in the form of persimmons, smelling faintly of the sea, tobacco smoke and winter chill.
Jesse Ball gave me an Opinel knife the year my grandfather died. I had his original, wire tied and stained, but it seemed as if grandpa himself insisted I have my own knife, new. I offered Jesse a dime in exchange for the sharp object along with some unexpected tears and the story. I followed the proper Danish tradition: the coin promises the giver that even though a sharp object is received, it will not cut the friendship.
Today, my love and I, picked persimmons from the two trees in the back yard. The Opinel knife is just as busy, the food dryer is humming and the slices of stained glass persimmon fruits sport their orange stars. The persimmons stand next to a pomegranate tree.
Pomegranates are my grandmother Cobain. But that’s another story.