Editor’s Page

Fall 2017

Dear Readers,

This fall the world has been inundated (yes) with floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and other climatic disasters. You undoubtedly have stories about weather: dire, happy, funny or nostalgic, as do we. Laura Zaki, our indispensible webmistress, lives in Orlando. She persisted through it all putting this issue together while coping with high winds, fear of losing power, reassuring her two young children, and rescuing two baby birds. A champ! We hope you and all your friends, relatives and neighbors survived safely.

On a sweeter note, fall is persimmon time. The fruit, which technically is a juicy berry, ripens in late fall to winter, depending on the species. The trees are native to Japan, China, Burma, and northern India, where persimmons have been grown for centuries. American persimmons are native along the East Coast from Connecticut to Florida and westward to Kansas, Oklahoma, and areas of Texas. Native Americans ate the fruit; the name persimmon comes from the Algonquin word “pessamin,” which means choke fruit. Wildlife, such as quail, raccoons, opossums, foxes, squirrels, and coyotes, relish persimmons. (Love the image of raccoons dipping a bright orange globe into water.)

Apparently, you get better results if you harvest both American and Japanese persimmons before they get ripe. We here at Persimmon Tree disagree. We say, the riper the better.

In 2015, National Geographic reported that gardeners have long known that persimmon sex is complicated: Female trees bear fruit, males don’t, and some trees are both male and female. Until recently, scientists have not known how sex is determined for sex-splitting persimmons. Now they have isolated a crucial gene on the Y chromosome: the gene restricts the expression of a “feminizing gene,” which limits pollen production.

So there you have it: even persimmons have sex and Persimmon Tree, in our newly ripened Fall issue, has gender, sex, and identity as well as aging issues therein. As you read through the issue, note how entries echo each other – watch for bonsai and black cowboys.
Sue Leonard

p.s. Looking ahead: If we can collect enough pieces (fiction, nonfiction, art, etc.), we would like to produce an issue about immigration and immigrants to come out perhaps by spring 2018.



For 45 years, Sue Leonard taught every variety of history except American mostly at independent high schools for girls — with a brief stint in a poverty program school for pregnant teens in Bedford Stuyvesant. In the mid-nineties she and her late husband John Leonard were co-editors of the Books and Arts section of the Nation Magazine. Since retiring, Sue has filled up her days with reading, needlework, family, friends and long walks.