October 21, 2011
They are gifts of the road. Nature's snacks ripened just for you. Their aromas fill the hot summer's breezes and the late fall's chill. Roadside trees, far from any home or farm, display these treats more beautifully than any row of sweets in a candy shop. They must have been planted for the benefit of touring cyclists. Why else would their heavily laden branches lean over the road?
Apples in eastern Washington. Tree tomatoes (tomate de arbol) in Colombia. Mangoes in Thailand. Figs. We love figs! You can smell them a half mile away when the wind is just right and they are oozing with flavor.
The fruit that won our hearts in Portugal was the persimmon. Eat it too early and your mouth will pucker up in disgust. But catch this fruit at its peak and the jelly-like interior is a decadent dessert.
So enamored were we with the persimmon, that we planted one in our yard in Seattle. It will be years before it bears fruit; and, due to our cool summers, the taste will probably never match those we slurped in southern Portugal.
But ten years from now, I'll pick a persimmon and bite into the gooey flesh ... and my mind will fly across the ocean and remember a bicycle journey.
Now, that's sweet!
Photo by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.