10 Country: Fruit for homesickness - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Fruit for homesickness

^ Kathy Hobbs ^ Kathy Hobbs
^ Nobuko Wilson ^ Nobuko Wilson

November 26, 2002

Tift County-- Thanksgiving sometimes causes more cases of an ailment for people who live a long way from home. In one case, a special fruit solves the condition of homesickness.

In our self-centered world, it's not easy to find people willing to help pull others to a happier life. But, Nabuko Wilson and Kathy Hobbs enjoy a special relationship build around persimmon trees. "She thought it was a good business, and I said 'let's go for it,'" said persimmon grower Kathy Hobbs.

Most people know about the fruit and its legendary bitter taste, but they grow sweet ones and they had a hard sales job to get people to taste them. "They're as sweet as apples, but I was afraid to try them." What do they taste like? You can immediately taste the sweetness.

The two work hours and hours to grow the fruit, with Kathy helping to grow and to sell the persimmons for a reason that money could not buy. "Because I love her dearly. Absolutely."

She noticed her sister-in-law would get homesick on occasion. "During the Fall, I really miss Japan," said Nabuko Wilson. Her parents grew about 15 types of persimmons near their home and Nabuko could pick and eat them on the spot, a taste of home not easily replaced.

"This is my favorite fruit", but sweet tasting persimmons like she had in Japan were not readily available in the U.S. "I wanted her to be happy and not to be homesick," said Hobbs. "Homesick is awful, and Japan is a long way to be homesick for."

"Husband said more easier to plant than to go back home," said Nobuko. Especially when it costs more than a thousand dollars for each trip.

They planted 263 sweet persimmon trees that bear fruit in the fall, just like in Japan. Can small trees with orange fruit dangling from small limbs make up for a trip back home? "Very much makes up for going back home."

Together, they found an anti-dote for homesickness, with a fruit thought of as always bitter to eat, making Nabuko's American home a little sweeter and a little happier.

Once they get people to eat one of their sweet persimmons, they don't have problems selling them.

posted at 3:45PM by dave.miller@walb.com