The Ozarks seems to have a good crop of persimmons this year, which are fairly good to eat if you are absolutely starved or if you have the culinary taste of a wild possum.
Hunting deer this week, I came across a persimmon tree loaded with persimmons. I ate several and left the rest for deer and raccoons and possums. Every time I eat a persimmon I get the feeling that God made them for wild creatures and meant for man to leave them alone. The seeds are large, and too many. The skin makes your mouth feel like you ought to drink a quart or so of water. You can eat them, and you can even eat white oak acorns.
You have to boil white oak acorns in clean water ‘til the water turns brown, then pour it off and boil them again and again until the water is clear after you boil them, and then you can bake them for ten minutes and roll them in cinnamon and sugar and eat them like little tiny donut holes.
But the Creator made pecans and walnuts and apples and blackberries and mushrooms and poke greens and plenty of other things for us to eat and I am not sure he didn’t mean for men to not be eating persimmons and acorns.
There are really good recipes for persimmon jelly and persimmon pie, but I’m darned if I wouldn’t rather have a good pecan pie or blackberry cobbler than a persimmon pie, and if I am going to put jelly on my toast I want strawberry jelly, not persimmon. However if you insist on eating persimmons, try this… remove the skin and seeds from about forty persimmons, so you end up with about a cup of the orange inside pulp with no seeds or skin. Put that in a bowl and sprinkle about a half a teaspoon of cinnamon on it, and then add a tablespoon of cream or whole milk. Then add one whole graham cracker, all crushed up.
Stir it all up and eat it and let me know what you think. I hope it don’t make you sick! I have never tried it myself, but it seems like it ought to be good. Every now and then, as an outdoor writer, I get carried away with the power to talk people into doing things like frying a coot or baking a chicken hawk, or trying to make something out of persimmons. I don’t know why I do that, but I reckon everyone needs to feel powerful on occasion.
Thanksgiving originally was a time for early Americans to give thanks for what they had grown and harvested, for what they had in a cellar or barn or smokehouse. Cellars and smokehouses are nearly non-existent now, and there are remnants of old barns sitting back in the weeds, falling apart, that tell us what country living was all about.
Only a small percentage of Americans still can give thanks for the harvest. Not many of us have chickens, grow a garden, or raise a hog or a calf to butcher in the fall. Not many give thanks for the catfish of the past summer, the meals of wild rabbit, wild duck and crappie. But I do.
I even thank God for giving us a good season for tomatoes and green beans and cucumbers. It was a great year for gardens. Maybe the acorns and walnuts weren’t quite as good, but there was a plentiful crop of mushrooms, apples, blackberries and persimmons.
For all that, I am thankful. And I thank God this week for good health for myself and family, for happiness, for the technology which stems from the knowledge He gives man and the good things it does for us. I hope you give thanks for the same things, blessed as greatly as I feel I have been.
But I thank Him often, all year long, when I am in the woods or on the river in the winter, when I am all by myself. Sometimes I am thanking Him for nothing in particular, but just for letting me be far away from people and the problems men create, where I do not need any change in my pocket, nor bills in my wallet. More and more there is that urge to just never go into a town anywhere but to try my best to get as far into the woods as I can get as often as possible.
I don’t know what I would give thanks for as I gather my family together on Thanksgiving Day, if I lived in St. Louis or Springfield or Detroit or Los Angeles. If I were confined to a life in Chicago or New York, how could I thank God for putting me there? I guess if I were there, and I asked, He would tell me he didn’t put me there, nor did he put anyone else there… he didn’t create us as puppets, he gave us the power to choose to make the earth what we want it to be rather than what He wants it to be.
Those who live in cities and suburbs often seemed trapped, but I guess they are happier there as long as the electric lines and the petroleum they have to have to live are uninterrupted. Without them, they aren’t going to be very happy. There are only a few of us who do not need electric lines or petroleum to have a great life, and I am thankful I am one of those few.
I can live just fine as my grandparents did, without any money. Think of how many people could actually live this coming year without making one single dollar. Think of how few people in our nation today would actually give thanks to God if that happened to them.
One of the things I thank God for at Thanksgiving is that those of us who find such tremendous satisfaction in seeing places which the hand of man has not altered are a small group. If the great masses who walk the worn trails on rare escapes from the city are happy with that, it spares the places where men like me go where there are no eroded footpaths, or vehicle ruts.
We need places too far and too hard to reach to become those calendar and postcard pictures, often visited, often photographed. One naturalist writer once said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” I might add, “In wildness is the continuation of life, mankind included.”
I keep giving thanks, all year long, when I find a new waterfall or a new cave, when I come across the track of a wild cat or a bear or a buck rub on a 6-inch cedar tree. It may not seem like much to give thanks for, but when I walk where there are no trails made by man, when I find some treasure far away from eroded footpaths, I know God is there, and he knows about me. I give thanks during all seasons, more than I ever did. And at Thanksgiving too, more than I ever did.
I also know that such days are limited for me. I am growing older as each season passes, and the coming and passing of that time of falling leaves and falling snow-flakes means I have less time to find places I have never seen. But advancing age may be a blessing for someone who cannot live without such far, wild places. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a time will come when there are no such places left and I don’t think people like me should be here when that happens.
I am thinking Heaven must be a big, big place, with room for saints and streets of gold and mansions on one side, and a vast beautiful wilderness on another side for those of us who didn’t wind up being good saint material and couldn’t care less about gold, or mansions.
Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email email@example.com My website, where you can leave comments, if you don’t mind giving your name, is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com