Wild American Persimmon Harvest

Cooking and Household, Nature Walks

Along one of the places I walk, there are some wild American persimmon trees. These persimmons are different than the ones you see at the grocery store, which are Japanese persimmons, generally. American persimmons are smaller, about the size of a ping pong ball, and a much more muted orange color, like the color of pumpkin butter. T The alligator bark on the very tall but somewhat thin trees is unmistakable. Persimmons grow way up high, so you’ll have to pick yours off the ground.

They are ripe when they look overripe- when they are so soft and squishy that their skin wrinkles slightly and splits or squishes easily when touched. You’ll think that you’ve gotten to them too late, but that’s exactly when a persimmon has reached its perfection. They have a texture like homemade jam or over-evaporated fruit butter- not solid and very thick without exactly being a liquid. There are about 4-6 seeds in each fruit, and they are large and easy to pick out while eating.

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There are many things that a persimmon can be made into, however, I’ve only eaten them raw so far. I took a very small harvest this year, dodging drunk wasps who also feast on the (slightly fermented) fruits. These persimmons were delicious.

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2016 Oil Painting of Fern/Vines

Drawing

Here is a past work I made with the same oil paint set as my galaxy landscape. This one started out as a fern, but them turned into some type of vine. It was a couple years ago that I made this one, back in 2016. Oil painting is definitely enjoyable to me, but it does take a while, requires special handling of the materials used to create the art, and the piece in progress and finished needs a place where it can sit quietly and dry for very long amounts of time. Oil painting is definitely more of an occasional hobby for me, but I still greatly enjoy it.

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The Sycamore Tree

Nature Walks

Here is a sycamore tree from one of my walks. Sycamore wood isn’t great for firewood, nor carving, for it is weak, however, it is a faster-growing shade tree and therefore a popular landscaping choice in some areas. This can be a problem as it frequently sheds its weak branches in storms! As unhelpful as it may be for practical purposes, I still am fascinated by the patterns you find on sycamore bark. It’s almost like camo print, and I’m sure that a camo print based off this bark would be quite effective. The tree produces a ball seed pod almost like a sweet gum tree, but the way you tell the difference is that sweet gum pods are painfully spiky whereas sycamore pods are more soft, and you can crush a sycamore pod easily in one hand.

Purple Potato Harvest 2019

Cooking and Household, Gardening
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Cross-section photo taken mid-slicing for dinner.

I grew some purple potatoes this year. They were delicious potatoes that had purple skin, purple marbled with white insides, and the whole thing turned a deep purple when cooked. I was told that purple potatoes apparently originated from more mountainous regions, with the pigment to protect any potatoes near the surface of the soil from the sun due to the thinner atmosphere. The purple pigment is a sign of the higher content of healthy compounds in the potato!

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I love how cool and whimsical this type of potato is, and it is used just the same as any other potato. Cooking with them makes my dinners more interesting visually.

Sweet Gum Tree in Early Fall

Nature Walks

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I saw this tree on a nature park in the local area. It has star-shaped leaves. You can see the spiky seed pods ripening. About the size of a ping-pong ball, they are dark brown and very sharp once they fall to the ground. The wood is light colored with dark streaks and very hard. It makes a marvelous fire wood, but is challenging to split. I do not carve wood, but I think it would make a beautiful handle with the coloring and hardness qualities.

Pink-Fleshed Moon and Stars Watermelon

Drawing, Gardening

This year, I grew a watermelon I’ve wanted to grow since I was 12: the Pink-Fleshed Moon and Stars Watermelon. I read about it in a heritage seed-saving catalogue, and the description of a watermelon with markings like a starry sky took my imagination and gave me ideas of a faerie garden. Moon and Stars Watermelon is an heirloom variety of watermelon that was once thought to be extinct, but careful preservation has brought it back. It produces a lot of seeds, and grew easily in hills with zero assistance. I had a bit of trouble with the weeds this year, but the watermelon didn’t. It out-competed them and produced plenty of fruits.

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The watermelons were just as delicious as I imagined they would be. Very sweet and tasty, with plenty of watermelon flavor! It’s so much better than a grocery store melon. One of the watermelons was one yard (91 cm) in circumference!

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I painted the watermelon and the leaf in watercolor. The entire plant has these little yellow specks on it, like a whole galaxy of stars. Even the leaves are speckled when healthy, and the seeds are mottled with dark and mid-tone brown flecks. The watermelon also has a single larger yellow spot on it where it sat on the ground, making a “moon” on the dark green sky among all the tinier speckles of “stars.”

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The season for watermelon has already passed, but this variety deserves attention. I’ve saved the (numerous, huge) seeds from these watermelons to grow next year.

Wild Asparagus Berries

Nature Walks

There is a planting in my area where, at some point, somebody planted asparagus among the normal decorative flowers. It fits in very well with the rest of the plants and provides tall, frond-ly delicate branches to the background among hostas and other perennials. I have no idea if anyone harvests the asparagus any more, as most of the locals let their dogs go to the bathroom right along that area. I was lucky enough to walk by when the asparagus had berries! I have not grown asparagus before this year, and my own asparagus is quite small. I had no idea it had such bright little berries!

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They were challenging to focus on with my camera.

Watercolor Landscape in Phtalo Blue 2 of 2

Drawing

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This set was painted using a single tube of Phtalo Blue watercolor from my watercolor set. The paper is 140 lb cotton watercolor paper. I am really enjoying the challenge of creating an entire painting with just a single tube of watercolors. Perhaps I will try making a larger one some time in the future.