Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paw Paw Poo Poo

Old timey gardeners I have known where often heard to say "I like them McCaslin beans (or viney tomaters, or sally sweet corn or which-ever suiting variety) cause they don't come in all ta once"  Well, yep, that's a good thing, to spread out your harvest like that.

    Unless the harvest is a wild thing that grows best up on the ledge above the pasture and on the other side of the briar patch where its hard to get to if you have to make several trips.

      Paw Paws are like that, they "come in" (ripen) over a period of time, and if you want to gather the most harvest, you gotta keep your eye on 'em, which means trekking through the briars and chiggers and seed ticks frequently. This takes extra time, not only from negotiating the thorns and the steep slope, but each trip requires, at the very least, taking off your jeans, inspecting them inside and out and shaking them good, or, more prudently, changing them all together to a fresh pair and scrubbing your legs and waist in the process.
     This summer, in my haste, I have been known to throw caution to the wind and skip all post trek prudencies and to have suffered the chiggery-tickey consequences, which I chalked up to some sort of necessary egoic leveling experience, rather than its rightful designation of "lazy haste"

Extra time has been short for me this summer, due to various obligations, but extra desire for distraction has been in ample supply. Under those circumstances, you have to pick and choose your projects and let the rest of your grandiose outdoor plans slide.

This has been a "tall cotton" year for paw paws (and just about every other fruit and nut crop, least until the drought fell upon us again, but I will save whining about the climate for another post) and when I checked on their progress around the last of August I was amazed at the the quantity and size of the fruit.



This is the sort of "shock and awe" that I would like the human race to be referencing. 

My intention was to go back the very next week, but there were those obligations, so it wasn't till about two weeks later that I made it back up the ridge.

Pooey. Most of the fruit had ripened and fallen, and was well on its way to compost.

 2008 09 14 057

Paw paws are so nice and smushy that when they fall, they are immediately set upon by all manner of hungry organisms. They emit a fabulous sweet fermenting odor, which carries a good ways. Many's a time I have located them at the peak of perfection by following a "kentucky bourbon distillery" whiff on the breeze to the early dropping ones, to find ripe ones near by.

 2008 09 14 053

When they go, they go quickly though, leaving behind the lovely dark brown seeds which some critter must also find edible, because they don't hang around long either.

I had spent some time studying the teeth marks and sign on the downed paw paws and could tell that birds had pecked them, some sort of rodent had been on them, and deer had chawed and mauled them around...walking away, thinking about what I had seen, I was surprised to see the subject of my thoughts being devoured in "real life action" by a turtle directly in my path.

 2008 09 14 013-1

A little ways farther along the ridge I found some in tooth study condition, and a few to eat, too! So I guess it is a good thing that paw paws don't all come in at once, after all.

2008 09 14 060


Crafty Green Poet October 15, 2008 at 12:45 PM  

I enjoyed this post, i used to have a paw paw tree in my garden when I lived in Malawi and this was a nice reminder!

Anonymous January 22, 2009 at 8:16 AM  

Catherine . . . one of my customers brought in a paw paw and I didn't know what to do with it, how to eat it, etc. It sat on the knitting table with everyone asking what it was. How do I tell if it is ready and how is it 'et? Maybe we'll go on a harvest next year! Lea-Ann
P.S. I so love your photography!

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