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A Symbolic Asian Fruit

Posted on: Dec 08, 2010

The Persimmon Tree

It was cold last night; cold enough for the frost to convince my Persimmon trees to shed most of their bright orange leaves for the winter.  I have two trees, a Hachiya and a Fuyu. The Fuyu is quite prolific producing baskets full of plump orange fruits that supply us and several of our Asian neighbors for weeks, but the Hachiya is another story.  Its football shaped fruit are spare and sometimes none at all. This year I could only count one or two fruit on the Hachiya tree peeking out from under its thick leafy canopy.  Then the leaves fell revealing two dozen or so hidden fruits.  What a happy surprise!

I have a fondness for Persimmons that dates back several decades to a time when I lived in Japan.  It was actually a poor country when I lived there, still rebounding from a disastrous war that left most of its cities in ashes.  Because of overly protectionist trade policies and limited domestic agriculture, the diet of the average Japanese was quite limited.  Any protein was expensive and fresh fruits and vegetables were rare.  A bowl of noodles with a slice of tofu and a sprinkling of green onions was dinner for most people.  Sushi was what businessmen snacked on with clients after work at ubiquitous Sushi bars.  It was an expensive treat limited to those on expense accounts.

Sometime, in the late fall, a miraculous bright orange fruit started appearing in the local markets. Apple like in shape and texture, it became a surprising local treat for an American used to the amazing cornucopia found at Safeway.   Its subtle sweetness and delicate taste filled a need I didn’t know I had until it was gone.  At the beginning of winter, this fresh fruit was a visual and gustatory treat from the surrounding grayness.

Every year around the Holidays, my Persimmon trees sit for several weeks in my front yard bare of leaves and resplendent in bright orange fruit, looking almost like Christmas ornaments.   For me, the Persimmon tree is symbolic of ourselves and I dare say, our economy.   Sometimes our strengths and assets are only revealed under the harshest of circumstances.

This recession is not over, but like the Persimmon tree, our strengths and assets have been revealed. The list of what needs to be done is long, but for the world’s greatest meritocracy the path to recovery is apparent.  2010 has been better than 2009 and 2011 will certainly be better.   Politicians may make bad decisions, but our society and our economy have strengths that continue to show themselves even in the harshest of times.

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