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Giuseppe has many fruit trees on his farm. Some are rare varieties of pears and apples that are native to Piedmont. The quality of his fruit is exceptionally high and there is an abundance of it. Piero will take crates of pears and apples back to Cascina Piola to add to the Mostarda D’Uva that they are currently producing. Giuseppe also has a towering persimmon tree adjacent to his house.

Persimmons are strange fruit. They ripen in the fall, and late in the season it is common to see leafless trees loaded with bright orange globes, as if someone had climbed up and decorated their bareness. Now, in early October, Giuseppe’s tree still has all of its leaves, and almost all of the fruit on the tree is green. I love persimmons, and was hoping to find a ripe one. Scanning the tree I spotted a single persimmon at the very top that was deep orange and clearly ripe. I pointed to it. Giuseppe, who is in his seventies, looked at me and said, “If I were your age I’d climb the tree and get it.” It felt like a dare.

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I walked under the tree and looked up into it. It seemed scalable. I pulled myself up to the first branch. The branches radiated evenly from the tree, and it was easy to climb. Halfway up Giuseppe warned me to take care, that the persimmon tree’s branches were frail. I placed my feet and hands as close to each branch’s origin from the trunk as possible. Soon I was at the top. I straddled the final major branch and saw from my perch that the ripe persimmon was a good reach away. Making sure I had a solid grip with one hand and both legs, I leaned for the fruit. The tree top swayed gently with my weight. I strained to grasp the persimmon, drawing its thin branch closer with my fingers. At last I had it; it was perfect.

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When I looked down, I saw Giuseppe had pulled himself halfway up the tree. Another old man climbing trees! I carefully climbed down a short distance, then passed the persimmon into Giuseppe’s outstretched hand. We both made our way back to the ground.

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A perfect piece of fruit is worth such effort.

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