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Autumn in Marietta: Gingko Drop and Other Delights

Saturday, November 16, 2019

 My to-do lists probably don't look like most other people's. Oh, there's Bank Deposit and grocery lists and Take Trash and Check Proofs and all that. But there's also GINGKO DROP and GET PERSIMMONS and VISIT MAPLES. Late October and early November is a very busy time in Marietta, Ohio.
That first really hard freeze always makes the gingkos, with their primitive vascular systems, drop all their leaves within a few hours. If you're lucky, they've had time to turn gold first. Then you get this puddle of gold coins under the stark straight trunk, and it's pretty wonderful. So when I wake up to a really hard freeze, I head into town to seek out the gingkos I know, and see what happened overnight.


You've got to be careful not to slip on their nasty little fleshy fruits, which smell disconcertingly like vomit. I don't know what that is designed to attract. Dogs? Ishta. Oofda.

The miracle is that they're planted all over here. I love them, especially when they do their Halloween drama queen leaf drop. Look at the ombre shading on those little fan shaped leaves! Gingko leaves are the most primitive leaves you'll see. They're actually tiny fused twigs--hence the fan-shaped venation. Gingkos have no proper twigs--they've put them all into leaves. This tree hasn't changed since dinosaurs were browsing their branches. It hasn't needed to. 

The red maples were showing very well on Fifth Street on November 8. 

I wondered if this lady raking leaves knew that she matched her house? Pink top, black foundation. I love the color of her house. It's kind of a mauvey maroon, painted brick. Yum.

The fall color is better in town in early November than it is out my way, where it's a lot colder without the rivers to warm things up.  By then, the winds have taken most of the leaves away where we live.  Curtis and I walked the streets in all their lit-from-within glory. It was heaven.

He's caterwauling at me because he wants to get out the back and explore while I'm trying to load corn and seed in the car. Nope. You cover too much ground too fast. You are not Chet Baker, who rarely ever wore a collar because he never let Mether out of his sight.  You're a ramblin' man!

I've gotten into the habit of taking this little creature with me most everywhere I go. Fall is the time to do it, when it's not too cold or hot to leave him in the car for a little bit, and it's fun to walk him and take him to the office for a visit with the people he loves.

 A special hug for Cindy.

Back scritches from Angela! Tail going like mad the whole time.

Curtis keeps a ridiculously close eye on me when we go there, though, because the Bird Watcher's Digest office is where I left him when I went away for a long long time to Africa, for Pete's sake, and he doesn't want that to happen again. Oh, he did just fine, but he prefers to be with Mether. He's convinced that if he's vigilant enough he can prevent me from leaving without him. So he lies down and blocks doorways, to make sure I don't slip out without him. It's really funny. Everybody in the office is onto him and we laugh and laugh. He is Not Slow.  He is Always Thinking.

The most important thing I do in Marietta in late October and early November is Gather Persimmons. There are some absolutely fabulous trees planted on the streets, that produce wondrous quantities of the most succulent American persimmons you have ever seen.


They fall to the ground and just lie there for weeks and nobody much eats them. Most people are afraid to eat something off the ground. They walk up and tell me that as I'm picking them up and sucking on the seeds and putting them in my big green trug. "More for me!" I reply.
How silly that is, to be afraid of a fruit just because it didn't come from a store, wrapped in plastic. How sad that is. It's pathetic. This bounty, this bounty, and you're letting it rot.

 So I walk away with a trug full of gorgeous ripe 2" American persimmons, and they walk away thinking I'm weird and will probably croak young. I've tried to get people to just taste them and they refuse. Sigh. More for me.

 And what do I do with these fabulous fruits? Well, I usually eat the pulp for breakfast over 4% cottage cheese, and it is fabulous that way. But this year I decided to make pies.

My next post details my Quest for the Perfect Persimmon Custard Pie. 


No persimmons here but I would try them if there were. Some years our mulberries drop all in one day, but not every year. Love Curtis!

I like all your posts, Julie, but this is my favorite kind: when you visit someplace that looks like where I live and see things that I never know to see. It reminds me to be aware, to stop and breathe and wonder, to connect with my community. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have a gingko in my front yard, and usually I never get to see the drop happen before the wind scatters the leaves. This fall, I opened the front door to get the mail and found a carpet of gold on the front walk. They all dropped at once, as purported to but never witnessed by me, and I just walked amongst the leaves and grinned like a fool. That's okay; the neighbors know I'm a bit weird.

Posted by mimimanderly November 17, 2019 at 3:39 AM

Why why why do cities plant the gingko trees next to the sidewalks and make you do a weird complicated dance to avoid stepping on those stinky fruits??? Looking at you, Charlottesville! But I do love the Gingko Drop. Fabulous.

I would try them! My theory is that wild food fear started with mushrooms and pokeberries! Kim in PA

I have a huge ( tall) persimmon tree in front yard beside equally big sycamore. They’re holding up the hill thus our house!! I ran out grabbed the fruit one year ahead of bucks who love them. After hours of extracting pulp to make cookies? Decided wasn’t worth the effort. But I love judging the weather by them. Open & look for spoon or fork shapes!!

We had persimmons where I grew up in central Indiana, and consequently persimmon pudding is a thing there. I like them but in limited amounts as I find the taste a bit rich. That said, I agree with you that people have become way too distant from the land and where our food comes from. Not eat something off the ground? Strange indeed! Those persimmons you gathered are enormous! Enjoy your bounty!

If you like to gather “wild” fruit you might enjoy a blog called “66 Square Feet” by Marie Viljoen who is into foraging and had an informative post about using native persimmons a month or so ago. She hosts foraging walks in the NYC area and recently published a foraging cookbook. I’ve learned not only that you can use fruits like native persimmons and beach plums, but you can also ear a lot of weeds like lamb’s quarters, purslane, and the first spring shoots of the otherwise horrid Japanese knotweed (oh, and the first spring shoots of US native pokeweed)!

Gingko! Love them. Where we live, there is a house that had two gingko trees. I enjoyed so walking past them, looking at their marvelous leaves, and avoiding their fruit. Then one day, they were gone. Cut down! I was devastated. I knew the neighbor whose house it was, and asked (make that challenged) him why they were cut down. "We couldn't stand the smell" he said.
I blathered on about how ancient they are, like living relics from the age of dinosaurs. He shrugged.
Well, we are still friendly neighbors--but I can't help myself. I do occasionally remark about missing the gingkos. I suspect he thinks me a touch wacky...shrug. So be it.

I need to plant some persimmon trees here. I've saying that for years now. If I'd have done it when I first said that I'd be eating pudding right now! Sigh...

I also have watch for ginkgo drop on my to-do list. Here in Sacramento it have happens later, but happen it does. Well worth the wait!

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