Amusements & Useful Devices from K. A. Wisniewski
What’s that? A fruit that tastes like a mix between a banana and a mango and that is indigenous to North America? Curious? If you’ve never heard of the pawpaw, you’re not alone! Earlier this year, I was flipping through a gardening / seed catalog when I stumbled upon this strange description.
I needed to investigate! And apparently . . . it’s a thing! And for the past few weeks, for me at least, the pawpaw was the thing that occupied much of my time. And I was surprised to learn that I’m not alone. There are numbers of small farms, orchards, and nurseries that grow the pawpaw–there’s a North American Pawpaw Growers Association–and there are entire festivals dedicated to it the fruit! Who knew!
While it might have been easier to take a weekend getaway and visit some of these growers, or even the festival (maybe next year!), I wanted to see these fruitful trees in their natural habitat, since apparently they’re seemingly everywhere. (The pawpaw is native to 26 states!) I was amazed to learn that founders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew the pawpaw at Mount Vernon and Monticello, respectively and that the fruit was also enjoyed by famous Americans including Mark Twain, Washington Irving, Daniel Boone. So what’s the story? How was the pawpaw forgotten in American history?
The mystery slowly unraveled: The problem is that they’re only in season for a few short weeks, typically the last two weeks in September and, maybe, the first week of October).
So the pursuit of the pawpaw began! And there wasn’t much time!
I solicited my friend Phil Hartman, English teacher and amateur explorer, forager, and horticulturist to help me track down this elusive tree.
To my great surprise and enjoyment, I’m happy to report that in the recent weeks we found (and tasted) the pawpaw. And better yet, we documented the whole journey.
In the next few weeks, I plan on reviewing the days-worth of raw footage and editing it down for a short video. But in the meantime, I wanted to share my plans and offer a little preview to what’s coming down the pipeline.
I hope you enjoy it!