Persimmon

To the south of the house on the hill, there was crop land, flat and fertile with deep clay soil.  To the west, the hill dropped off and the land was more rocky.  That area was used as a small pasture.  To the north and east was the main pasture with its grasslands, woods, and ponds.  On the northeast end of the property, a small creek cut through this pasture.  The persimmon trees grew along this creek.  My brother and I watched the trees carefully every fall.  It’s easy to identify a green persimmon that is still hard and pale, but it’s very difficult to reliably avoid those that are almost ripe.  And a taste of green persimmon, even a little bit green, is a taste you want to avoid at all costs.  The unripe flesh is very astringent.  It turns your mouth inside out and it doesn’t dissipate right away.  You can’t spit it out.  It’s as awful as the ripe persimmon is delicious.  

We watched the cows who also loved persimmons and always seemed to know when they were ready to eat.  We dared one another to go first.  No matter how careful we were, we got a taste of green persimmon every year.  And yet we kept coming back.  The lure of the ripe fruit was just too tempting.

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As I work on this series, I grapple with the question of editing of the images I’m using digitally.  I don’t have any issue with digital editing in general, I simply question the role it should, or should not, play in this project - a project based on a 19th century photographic technique, using photographic paper from decades ago, and that seeks to honor a life and a life style that has all but vanished.  I have long debates with myself, arguing both sides.  Since the question remains an open one for me, I’ve been intentionally pushing back on myself each time I’m tempted to crank up Photoshop.  This image, out of the printing frame, did not please.  I began applying all the chemical tricks I could come up with to improve it.  They did not please.  Finally, I looked around the kitchen asking myself if I had exhausted all possibilities, and it hit me - food coloring.  The image you see here is the result of childlike play with food coloring, just squirting it onto the wet print intuitively and randomly, and allowing it to stay a few seconds before washing it off.  I offer this image in that spirit of play, and with a bit of chagrin.  After the print dried it was too dark.  In the end, I brightened it digitally.