Sometimes Persimmons*

Issue 43


Ruin 1, Ruin 2
S. Miller


Festival Season
C. Hudak

The night of 11/11, an elegant German woman clasped my forearm and said, “Germans in the countryside celebrate Festival Season starting today. It’s an auspicious day for an art opening.”

We were in Berlin, in a gallery, in a mall, just off the escalator, across from a dollar store where I’d gone earlier to gather supplies for the opening, and where, when I asked, “sprechen Sie Englisch?” the goth girl behind the counter raised an eyebrow and said, “nein,” which meant I wasn’t able to figure out how to buy a tiny speaker for one of the painters to play music she’d brought to accompany the largely surrealist collection of art our small radical collective had gathered from around the world.

Andrea, our local host, was showing a large collection of paintings, many celebrating metaphysische putzfrauen (metaphysical cleaning women) and had invited the rest of the collective to be a part of her celebration, which is how I came to be there, one of a ragtag bunch of Americans who’d overtaken a tiny room behind the larger gallery and filled it with the collectives’ work.

This is not an art review. I’ll say no more about the art or artists beyond noting that though we weren’t together long, every other American took me aside, at some point, to point out how strange the other Americans were.

We are all odd, I said, to each of them in turn.

The night after the opening I overslept, missing my chance to take the concierge’s advice and drive to Potsdam. Instead, I brought my notebook to lunch at the recommended restaurant, “where all famous Berliners go.” There, when I asked, “sprechen Sie Englisch?” one man nodded at another and the second man sighed and led me to a far table by the windows.

I’ve yet to visit one, but I’m told that in some cities, locals appreciate visitors who attempt to use the native language. Berliners, though, are not apparently impressed by Americans who crammed on DuoLingo. When I asked, “Was empfehlen Sie?” the pert man sighed some more and said most people get the schnitzel.

“Thank you,” I said. “Is there anything else you recommend?”

Another heavy sigh. He held my menu listlessly and turned it from the German side to the English, then pointed. “There is the goose. It is only available at certain times of year. After 11/11.”

“Omigod - Festival Season goose? I’ll have that!”

So much gets lost in translation. We leave out important parts; we ask the wrong questions or forget to ask at all. I flew home and could not stop talking about Festival Season. “We all ought to have one!” I declared I’d celebrate from 11/11 - 1/1 every year from now until forever.

But I was wrong. Curiosity and time led me to wonder more. (Wonder: so often a useful path.) Wandering the internet, I learned Festival Season begins on 11/11 but ends only when Lent begins.

Which is to say, Festival Season is long. If we want, we might even take Festival Season all the way through the dark times.


Lentils (with halibut)
E. Hudak

Lentils are one of the world’s oldest crops. “Evidence of domesticated lentils dating to around 8000 B.C. has been found on the banks of the Euphrates River in what is now northern Syria” (NPR). Lentils were cooked by my mom in my house on the banks of the Puget Sound until approximately 2019 A.D., at which point I assumed some responsibility for the preparation of lentil soups.

Lentils are delicious and very low effort/high reward. Save some money on delivery fees and make these next time you’re exhausted by the adult task of thinking of what to eat several times a day, every day, forever.


Text within this block will maintain its original spacing when published1 onion, diced2 carrots, diced2 celery ribs, chopped2 garlic cloves, minced1 C brown lentils3-5 C chicken broth/water/bouillon. (Yes, you can substitute a different broth if you feel called to do so.)Seasoning of your preference. (We tend towards Italian-y flavors somewhat often and use an Italian sausage seasoning blend. You can use red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, fennel seed, paprika, salt & pepper if you're similarly inclined.)


Make sure you have all your veggies chopped and ready.

Take a heavy bottomed pot (Dutch oven/cast iron preferably) and heat a solid amount of olive oil. Embody Lidia Bastianich, don’t be a weenie with the oil now.

Sauté the vegetables and garlic until soft. Season!

Add in the lentils and let them toast up, not for long, maybe a minute or two.

Add in your broth, it should be more than enough to cover, you can add more or less depending on how soupy you want them. Season again!

Let it cook, stirring occasionally. Read a book or something in the meantime.

Once your lentils are soft, you’re good to go. Eat it with bread or fish or a leaner meat if you’d like.


B. Gutschmidt

Text within this block will maintain its original spacing when publishedThis winter I am learning to make kofta. I chop the parsley and the onion,but this onion, bought just today, must be too old or too sweet; it is missing its sharp scent and does not bring tears.He brought me coriander leaves and tahini and the halal beef, drained of bloodand told me how to make it, then he leftto work for his family here, and his family there, drivingtravellers in Seattle to send sustenance to Nablus. I’m on my own tonight, trying to follow his explanation. I mix beef and bits of onion and allspice, always allspice, and salt, with my hands, feeling the cold revolting squish of the ground meat. I have failed to slice the onion fine enough. But I keep going, mixing, insisting. Put into the biggest pan you have, cut in 6 squares, bake until it’s brown. I juice two lemons and try to keep out the bitter seeds.I mix tahini with lemon while the meat is cooking, like he said,pour the sauce, bake more.I take one piece to eat with my winter turnips and greens.I wonder where he is now and who he is driving on his routes around the city. The kofta is hearty and unctuous on my tongue.I am still learning.The sauce needs more salt and lemon.And it won’t be right until the onions make me cry.


Stairs and loops
G. LaPlante


People prefer loops, to walk or travel in a roundabout circle instead of to a point and walking back. So, make a loop. Follow ideas and thick heartbeats with the intention of them meeting where they started. Take on the stairs, scan the Garry Oaks for strangers, circle the reservoir, head back down the hill. But wait for snow to revel in the fulfilment of the loop.


Deadline (I’m Against Everyone)
Long-Distance Beginners


C. Hudak

You found me outside a walled city

jumping up and down, shouting, desperate
singing, dancing, waving my arms, exhausted
pointing at moonlit pines, rain on pavement,
skylines, horizons - legible! - beyond the walls,
insisting at those behind the walls,
wishing I knew what to say to convince them
to see, to try, to smell the air out here.

You took my hand.
Ran your fingers (so gently)
along the inside of my wrist,
gave the softest tug.

Turn around. Look.

[missing video]

Rain after drought. Rossville, GA, USA. By B. Rogers.
1 minute. Audio description: Rain hitting long-dry, clay earth and autumn trees.

*Title is from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, It Was Like This: You Were Happy


Transitions are complicated and worthwhile. Watch for us on a less Nazi-friendly platform in 2024.