Legend of Persimmon
The Bitter Sharon Fruit: Persimmon
On the Black Sea coast there was a garden, filled with plants and trees whose leaves rustled merrily in the breeze. It was filled with all kinds of fruit: lemons and oranges, pears and peaches, and many others. On the edge of the garden grew a small grove of sharon fruit trees. The old gardener loved the sharon fruit for its beauty and simplicity. In autumn, its leaves turned a deep claret red, and the young trees shone like tiny flames. Its soft, orange fruits were delicious too. The old gardener often dined on sharon fruits.
“Why do you eat these fruits, granddad?” asked the old man's grandson. “They taste sweet at first, but once you chew a little, the sweetness disappears.”
“You are right,” replied the old man, “they are bitter. They contain lots of tannic acid, but there is a reason for this – it is a binding agent, used to hold the fruit together.”
Many years went by, and the old gardener's grandson took ownership of the garden. He decided that he needed to make a good income from the garden, resolving to plant new, sweeter varieties of sharon fruit and to chop down the old grove and use the wood. The wood of the sharon fruit tree is very useful – it is strong, does not bend easily and is very difficult to break. When the old garden was being cut down, the young gardener felt a sadness in his heart, and decided to keep one of the old trees in memory of his grandfather. In the cleared garden, he planted new varieties of sharon fruit, selecting those that would yield the sweetest fruits. The trees, however, were unpredictable. One year, they would yield sweet fruits, another year bitter ones, and sometimes they would yield fruits which were half sweet and half bitter. The young man tried drying the sharon fruits; when dried, the bitterness disappeared, but when used in cooking, the bitterness returned. Eventually, the gardener lost his patience with the sharon fruits, and decided he was going to cut down the trees he had planted.
Autumn came, and the sharon fruit trees blazed with their fiery red leaves. After admiring their beauty for some time, the gardener came to a decision.
“I cannot cut you down – you are so beautiful and durable,” he thought to himself. “Your fruits are like jam, packed into tiny bundles by Mother Nature herself. Your only downfall is your taste – she has made you too bitter. Your fruits are useless.”
“Mother Nature never creates anything useless,” replied the old tree under which the gardener was standing.
“I never knew that sharon fruit trees could talk,” replied the young man in astonishment.
“You never tried talking to me before, so I have never spoken to you,” replied the tree. “Your grandfather had many conversations with us. We know lots of interesting stories.”
“Tell me one of your stories,” replied the gardener.
“All right then. I will tell the story of how I first appeared on Earth:
“Once I was a young girl who lived in Japan . My fiance was very poor, and my family would not allow me to marry him. He left in search of wealth, and used all of his remaining money to buy me a farewell gift – a beautiful purple silk kimono. He asked me to wear this kimono and, on the day of his return, to climb to the top of the cliff so that he would see me from a distance. I did not know when he would return so, each day I put on the purple kimono and went to the cliff. A long time passed, and I began to grow older, but each time I put on the silk kimono I turned back into a young girl. People began to say that my fiance had died in a foreign country from an illness called atherosclerosis, but I did not believe them. One day, I put on the kimono and climbed to the top of the cliff. I felt as if I did not have the strength to climb down again. So I shouted aloud: ‘Mighty sun, give me the strength to continue waiting for my fiance!'.”
“At that same moment, I was transformed into a young sapling – a Japanese sharon fruit, which can live for up to five hundred years. Autumn provided me with a fine purple dress so that my beloved would be able to see me upon his return. My fruits are intended for him alone, and they are not to everyone's taste.”
The gardener listened to the tree's story in silence and decided not to chop down the sharon fruit grove. Soon, an old man came to see him, looking to buy some sharon fruits. The customer tasted all the different varieties on offer, but none was to his liking. Then he noticed the old tree which grew on the edge of the garden.
“The fruits of this old tree are so bitter that they are painful on the tongue,” explained the gardener.
Despite the warning, the old man picked a sharon fruit off the tree. He tasted the fruit, savouring its taste for a long time.
“I would like to buy the entire harvest from this tree,” he said suddenly. Seeing the young gardener's surprise at his request, he continued: “The more bitter the taste, the more tannin the sharon fruit contains. Tannin is like a medicine to me – it helps me to fight my atherosclerosis.”
For the rest of his life, the gardener would often go out into his garden to talk to the trees. He left the sharon fruit grove to his own grandsons. Whenever anybody suggested that the trees were a waste of space, he would answer them sternly: “Mother Nature never creates anything useless.”
Questions and exercises based on the story about persimmon:
- Does Mother Nature create anything useless?
- What effect did the conversation with the tree have on the young gardener?
- Imagine that the sharon fruit tree wanted to write a letter explaining its useful properties.
Help the tree by writing the letter for it.
- What colour do the leaves of the sharon fruit tree turn in autumn?
- How many years does a sharon fruit tree live for?
- Why does the sharon fruit have a bitter taste? What is the name of the binding agent
present in the sharon fruit? What diseases can this substance treat?
Does a dried sharon fruit retain its binding agents?
- Draw a picture of the young girl who turned into a sharon fruit tree.
- Write your own story, describing how a doctor teams up with the gardener to open a hospital,
using the sharon fruit to treat various diseases.
- Atherosclerosis is when fatty materials are deposited and harden, eventually blocking the arteries.
It is caused by a poor lifestyle eg bad diet and smoking.
Read the whole story about PERSIMMON
in the book
'The World of Fruits"
TESTIMONIALS from parents & educators
Educational project 'KIND BOOK':
This was fragment from the story about BANANA from the book on Healthy Food for kids: 'The World of Fruits', part I >>
For the Book II 'The World of Vegetables' visit project Bed-time stories about Vegetable Kingdom : Vegetables-for-kids.com
For anyone interested in their child's well-being, “The Storyteller's Guide to Health” series is sure to be of value. Following each selection of delightful stories, games and activities you'll also find recipes for the vitamin-conscious kitchen. The recipes are simple, allowing children to prepare dishes themselves with only minimal supervision, and are also designed to preserve the largest possible share of vitamins and other nutrients in the final serving. Read fragments from our stories: fruits for children
© Maria Skrebtsova,
© Alexandra Lopatina,
Illustration s by Svetlana Jijina.