Around this time each year, we check in with Melissa Bunker of North Carolina, a.k.a., “The Persimmon Lady,” who sends us her winter predictions based on seeds she opens from the persimmon fruit grown on her tree in central North Carolina. This year was a bit of a challenge, thanks to Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in North Carolina on September 14. Melissa’s family and her persimmon tree were right in its path. This week, she shared with us her harrowing story of salvaging the fruits and getting a persimmon seed forecast for us:
The Persimmon Lady’s Story from Hurricane Florence
We lost power for a little while but were lucky. We did have flooding inside our home! This was a constant battle for two days, but we’re nice and dry now! We were luckier than most.
Prior to the storm, I kept an eye on my persimmon tree watching the fruit. They came early this year, so I should have taken the hint that something large was coming, but between family life and other things, I got pretty busy. Most of the persimmons remained green right as the storm hit. After the storm (the tree was still standing), I looked at the fruit and saw they were peachy orange in color, with ripe ones at the top. Because the tree was too large to shake them down, I decided to wait. That evening, the soggy ground released the roots and down she came. The next morning during the intermittent rain, I saw my beloved tree laying in the mud and its unripe fruits scattered. I left my tree and allowed the dead limbs to ripen the fruit. This morning I gathered as many as I could.
My beautiful persimmon tree, sadly, is gone. It served me well. It was heartbreaking to see it laying there but I will be saving some seeds and starting them in the spring to begin a new persimmon grove.
The 2018 Persimmon Seed Forecast
So what did the seeds say? According to folklore, if you crack open a persimmon seed from a ripe fruit and the shape inside (called a cotyledon) looks like a fork, winter will be mild; if you see a spoon, there will be a lot of snow, and if there is a knife, winter will be bitingly cold and “cut like a knife.”
Here’s what Melissa found:
I opened up not my normal five fruits (containing 3-4 readable seeds each) but a grand total of 26 fruits, for a total of over 100 seeds altogether. Out of this total, I only found two forks. The remaining seeds were all spoons. No knives. This will be a winter for the record books in central North Carolina!
I have never seen this in all of my years. I’ve heard of similar stories from my grandfather. One story happened in 1962, where the seeds read all spoons and the precipitation was almost constant and continued until May of 1963. In 1985, when I was only 5 years old, it happened again. At the time, I was mostly excited to be getting some snow days from school, but my grandfather’s ominous look sobered my childish dreams of lazing around, and we began furiously canning and preparing the freezers for what was coming.
This is Melissa’s 10th year reading the seeds. While her beloved tree is gone, she tells us she can hike into the mountains to gather fruit until her new tree bears fruit. We look forward to the reading next year.
Forks, Knives, Spoons – What Do They Look Like?
Below is a graphic from The Persimmon Lady detailing what each of the shapes look like: