A Pretty Scene, A Pawpaw, A Song

Man, for a number of days the thoughts and themes that I’d been considering for this essay were as uncongealed as undercooked oatmeal. Eventually and fortunately, though, things began to come together when the word comforting eased its way into my mind. This occurred while I was looking over the photos that I’d taken while exploring Glenside, a town in the Philadelphia suburbs, a couple of weeks ago. To my great surprise, one of them reached out to me far more than any of the others did. It made me say aah. It made whatever stress I was feeling at that moment go bye-bye. The bottom line is that I found the scene in the photo to be very comforting.

What is it about the image that pleases me so? For one thing its colors are happy to be with one another. They get along splendidly. And the quiet reflection from across the street, in the door glass, adds to the sense of comraderie. I hadn’t even noticed the reflection when I walked up to the door to snap a picture of the Est. 2003 sign inches above it, for it was signs of one sort or another that I was seeking out and photographing that day in Glenside.

All in all, the photo strikes me as a representation of peace, warmth and tolerance. And if there’s anything in our little ol’ world that I’m totally down with, it’s those three commodities. I suppose that I’m reading a whole lot more into this picture than I might, but so be it. I’ll take my comforting moments when and where I can.

Moving right along: three years ago I wrote about my fruitless search for a pawpaw (click here if you’d like to read it). Thrice in that article I posed a question that maybe is on the tip of your tongue right now. Namely, “so, what the f*ck is a pawpaw?”

Well, it’s the fruit of pawpaw trees, which grow in various parts of the USA. There was a time when pawpaws were eaten fairly commonly. But those days are in the distant past. Though the pawpaw does retain pockets of popularity, there ain’t exactly shitloads of trees producing them in the States.

One thing about the pawpaw is that it is tropical in appearance, papaya-ish, not at all what you’d expect from an indigenous North American tree. I can confirm this because, astonishingly, my long, long search for a pawpaw ended successfully earlier this month. I have my friend Dave to thank for that, as he clued me in to the fact that a food co-op in my area had pawpaws in stock.

To the co-op I soon made my way, arriving back home an hour later with a large pawpaw so soft that a moderate squeeze would have punctured it. I purchased this specimen when a produce department worker at the co-op assured me that it was at the peak of ripeness, rather than overripe.

Photo by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin

I damn well wasn’t disappointed when, shortly thereafter, the pawpaw’s innards entered my mouth. The fruit possessed a variety of flavors, all subtle in intensity, reminding me of banana, honeydew and cantaloupe. But what I was taken with more than anything was its texture. The pawpaw’s flesh was firm yet creamy, pretty close in consistency, and in appearance for that matter, to the vanilla pudding that my mother made for my family frequently when I was growing up. I always loved her vanilla pudding. Because of that connection, the pawpaw worked its way into my heart. Eating the pawpaw was a comforting experience for me. Very comforting.

Moving right along again: I heard a wonderful song by The Wallflowers recently. The tune, Maybe Your Heart’s Not In It No More, comes from their album Exit Wounds, which was released a few months ago. Jakob Dylan (Bob’s son), is The Wallflowers’ lead singer and leader, and composed every song on the album.

The lyrics of Maybe Your Heart’s Not In It No More ruminate about the loss of mojo and direction, a circumstance that many people grapple with at one time or another. But it’s not so much the words that get to me. Rather, it’s the recording’s feel. I mean, this song hit my sweetest of spots the moment I heard it. I fell for the guitar lines intermingling like the best of friends; the steady, strong drumming; the hypnotic melody; Jakob’s straightforward vocals that mean what they say.

Maybe Your Heart’s Not In It No More comforts me, takes me in its arms and sweeps me away. What more could I ask for?

131 thoughts on “A Pretty Scene, A Pawpaw, A Song

  1. SandyL September 28, 2021 / 12:43 am

    Good for you! I’m glad you finally found a pawpaw to taste. It does not look anything like what I’d expect. Back in Jamaica we called papayas pawpaws, but it was the orange colored fruit with many small black seeds.

    It occurred to me that your pawpaw looks a lot like a cherimoya. Google seems to confirm that they belong to the same family of custard apples.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Lynette d'Arty-Cross September 28, 2021 / 1:06 am

    I don’t think that I’ve ever tried one, and your description of it sounds so delicious. Curious that it’s disappearing or has become a niche fruit. I enjoyed the Jakob Dylan song.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 11:50 am

      Hi, Lynette. The Wallflowers have produced a lot of good songs over the years. The group was at the height of their popularity around 15 or 20 years ago, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. George September 28, 2021 / 1:08 am

    I love this. You have a rare eye to find peace, warmth and tolerance in a simple sign, but I get it totally now you point it out.

    I’m now eager to try a paw paw.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. gabychops September 28, 2021 / 1:17 am

    I like your post! It is interesting and comforting in equal measures!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 11:53 am

      Hi, Henry. We might be towards the end of pawpaw season, so start your search now!

      Like

  5. Alyson September 28, 2021 / 5:27 am

    We’re all now in search of paw-paws – You’ve done a good PR job!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jane Sturgeon September 28, 2021 / 5:49 am

    Pawpaws take me back to my teenage years, Neil. Glad you got to taste one and thank you for this comforting post and the song share. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. swabby429 September 28, 2021 / 6:19 am

    While reading this post, the refrain of an old tune looped in my head: “Where oh where is dear little Suzie? Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch…”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robert Parker September 28, 2021 / 6:31 am

    A family on the street where I grew up had a little greenhouse/produce stand, and they had pawpaw trees in back, but said no one was interested in them, and they always ended up dumping 90%. They started leaving a bagfuls on the porch, and when the growers retired and moved south, my folks planted their own trees – they grow like weeds. They like to cook them up to make pawpaw pudding, delicious. Your description is perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Robert Parker September 28, 2021 / 12:16 pm

        Not 100% sure, my dad prunes his every other year, but I think the ones behind the neighbor’s greenhouse are 20 or 30′ tall. They send up suckers all the time too, so if you don’t cut them down, you’d have a whole grove pretty quickly.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. 4FabFriends September 28, 2021 / 7:20 am

    Am I the only one who didn’t know a pawpaw was something other than the man married to my memaw? The memories of whom, by the way, bring me such peace, warmth and tolerance. You have now inspired me to search for the fruit version and I see a road trip in my future. As I listen to Jacob’s soothing vocals it reminds me that I need to get my car serviced before I head out on my journey, don’t want to be driving around with One Headlight. Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rivertoprambles September 28, 2021 / 7:33 am

    This reminds me of a visit to a small, authentic backwater called Paw Paw, in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Paw Paw, home to the famous Paw Paw Tunnel. Fascinating, and… comforting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 12:05 pm

      Thanks for this info. I tell you, pawpaws have had a way bigger presence than I ever realized. In some parts of the USA, anyway.

      Like

  11. JOYCE HAMILTON September 28, 2021 / 7:57 am

    Your description of pawpaw was so excellent that it makes me want to try. I also didn’t know Bob Dylan had a son that is a singer. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 12:07 pm

      Thanks, Joyce. Give Weavers Way Co-Op a call. They have three branches. I went to the one in Ambler. Maybe one or more of the branches still has pawpaws in stock.

      Like

  12. Paddy Tobin September 28, 2021 / 8:34 am

    What are the chances, I wonder, of pawpaws being stocked in the shops here in Ireland. I would like to try one! I imagine I have a better chance of seeing an “Est 2003” on a shop front!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Paddy Tobin September 28, 2021 / 2:41 pm

        I shall have to relish pawpaws through the richness of your descriptions in that case!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. eden baylee September 28, 2021 / 8:45 am

    Hi Neil,
    I love fruit and I’ve never eaten paw paw. The flesh has a similar look to other exotic fruits I’ve eaten -papaya, durian, jackfruit. I’ll look for it here but not sure we get them!

    Love the Wallflowers and will definitely give that song a listen. Enjoy your paw paw! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 12:09 pm

      Hi. I think the Wallflowers song will carry you away. And it will sound even better if you listen to it while eating a pawpaw!

      Like

  14. Evelyn J. Willburn (Right as Rain Online) September 28, 2021 / 8:59 am

    On my family’s farm in Central Virginia, we had many pawpaw trees! I don’t know why we never ate the fruit, maybe it’s time I tried it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Helen Devries September 28, 2021 / 9:06 am

    You’re a determined man! Is the paw paw part of the soursop family?
    I like your trinity of peace, warmth and tolerance……we could certainly do with achieving that being government policy…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 12:12 pm

      Helen, peace, warmth and tolerance are where it’s at. Too bad that at least a billion people don’t agree with that statement.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Laurie Graves September 28, 2021 / 9:11 am

    Excellent post. “All in all, the photo strikes me as a representation of peace, warmth and tolerance. And if there’s anything in our little ol’ world that I’m totally down with, it’s those three commodities.

    I’ve never had a paw-paw, but your description sure makes them sound utterly delicious.

    As for the Wallflowers…one of my favorite groups. Hadn’t heard this song before. Many thanks for sharing. Have you heard “Evil Is Alive and Well”? Not exactly uplifting but right on the penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 12:16 pm

      Afternoon, Arlene. I suppose it’s possible that pawpaw trees grow somewhere in Canada. Maybe in a southern region. But nothing I’ve read mentions that.

      Like

  17. Monkey's Tale September 28, 2021 / 10:10 am

    I thought paw paws were papayas, which I’m not a fan of, but maybe I’ll look for a US grown paw paw. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Donna Cameron September 28, 2021 / 11:48 am

    I’ve never tasted (or seen) a paw-paw, but I will be on the lookout for them. Even more, will be seeking that peace, warmth and tolerance you mentioned. Can’t get enough of that stuff….

    Liked by 1 person

  19. andrewcferguson September 28, 2021 / 12:57 pm

    Your memories conjured by the taste of the paw paw could match that guy with the madeleine biscuit – thankfully much shorter!

    Thanks for making me finally listen to a Wallflowers song – I’d meant to check out how Bob’s laddie sounded, and it’s all good! As you say, a cracking arrangement and production.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 2:03 pm

      I read in today’s paper that Bob will be on the road soon. He’ll play two shows in November in Philadelphia, and a bunch of shows in other areas.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Rosaliene Bacchus September 28, 2021 / 1:32 pm

    Neil, I’m happy to hear that you found all the “comforting” you needed that day 🙂 Pawpaw is way at the top of my list of favorite tropical fruits. Some varieties have the perfect texture and sweetness to satisfy my sweet tooth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 2:55 pm

      Hi. Speaking of fruit, I really got into Bing/Washington cherries this year. I ate more of them than I had in ages.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. sniderjerry September 28, 2021 / 2:01 pm

    Hey there Neil, You just missed the Paw Paw festival in Lisbon, Ohio – everything paw paw including beer. Check out their website, get a bus and plan on bringing all your friends to next year’s event. I’ll see there. Have a great day. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

      • sniderjerry September 28, 2021 / 3:50 pm

        Yes, I like them. Once upon a time I owned a house with a paw paw tree right on the property line with my neigbor. His wife was only forty and dying of cancer. At about the same time a story ran in our local paper that paw paws were part of a new cancer cure experiment. How strange and how sad. So paw paws have good and bad vibes for me. All the best. Jerry

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Ann Coleman September 28, 2021 / 3:05 pm

    I’ve never had a paw paw, but I think I’ll have to give it a try…sounds delicious. And I agree about that first photo being cheerful and comforting, and as you say, we take our comfort where we can these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 4:51 pm

      Hey there, Ann. If you call some markets that carry some atypical produce, maybe you’ll find a paw paw. But it’s likely kind of a long shot.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. kegarland September 28, 2021 / 3:46 pm

    I’ve never ever heard of this, but that combo of fruits makes it slightly enticing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 4:56 pm

      Eating a paw paw wasn’t a life-changing experience. But it was pretty cool, considering that it took me three years to find one.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. stargazer September 28, 2021 / 4:21 pm

    I really like that photo as well. Besides from the lovely colours and the reflection, I would also add the symmetry, which is a feature I just love in photos. Maybe because I’m into math and geometry?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 28, 2021 / 5:47 pm

      Right, that photo has plenty of symmetry going on, which isn’t particularly usual for my photos. Thanks a lot for your input. Appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Michele Anderson September 28, 2021 / 7:55 pm

    Cool song, and I can relate. I’m for those comforting moments and a simpler life for sure. I will have to try the pawpaw fruit, it sounds so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. johnlmalone September 29, 2021 / 1:10 am

    you do an exquisite job, Neil, of conveying the taste of the pawpaw, a fruit I’ve never eaten, but I could taste it just reading your evocative words: yummy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. shoreacres September 29, 2021 / 10:26 am

    When I lived in Liberia, ‘paw-paw’ was the name for papaya. They came in yellow, orange, and almost red, and some were so large they were used like watermelons to hold fruit salad. I still think of the pleasure of being able to go out and pull one from a tree — so delicious! I didn’t know about the American pawpaw until I began blogging, and found people from other parts of the country writing about them.

    I did have a cat in Liberia for a time. Her name was Pawpaw, because of her habit of kneading the nearest lap with her paws.

    Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres September 29, 2021 / 10:31 pm

        No, I moved there in the early 70s to work in an up-country hospital: maternal child health, and so on. I enjoyed it so much I went back in the mid-80s just to travel for a bit, and touch base with friends. Travel was different in those days: no GPS, no internet, no cell phones — no phones, for that matter. It worked.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. Joe September 29, 2021 / 10:43 am

    Thanks for the comforting music, Neil. I had heard the phrase “way down yonder in the paw paw patch” but never knew what that referred to. Tasting new and exotic fruits became sort of a daring pastime for us while traveling in Asia. Sampling the creamy durian, notorious for its foul smell, required the most courage. How about your paw paw? Was it odoriferous?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 29, 2021 / 12:53 pm

      Hi. The pawpaw was pretty mild in flavor and odor. And it had eight or so dark seeds, each the size of a fingernail.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. annieasksyou September 29, 2021 / 12:30 pm

    Multiple cheers for comfort, peace, and tolerance; if only that trio were universal, what a better place planet Earth would be.

    Interesting description of pawpaw: any fruit that winds up like vanilla pudding would win my vote.
    I’d never heard of pawpaw until about a month ago, when a fellow blogger described her efforts to revitalize the trees in her yard. Double pawpaw featuring in such a time frame must mean something, methinks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 29, 2021 / 3:23 pm

      One thing for sure is that pawpaws in my area aren’t cheap. The place where I bought the pawpaw charged $8 per pound.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. talebender September 29, 2021 / 1:28 pm

    Reminds me of a song my grandma used to sing to me…..most of it forgotten, but it ended with the phrase—-🎶…way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.🎶
    Good read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 29, 2021 / 3:19 pm

      Hi. Another reader mentioned this. I hadn’t known about that song before. Take care. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  31. viewfromoverthehill September 29, 2021 / 6:51 pm

    Live and learn! I lived in L.A. for 33 years and never heard of a pawpaw. Do you know if it grows in California? Why would people stop growing something which sounds so delicious? Can you plant one in your garden? Cheers, Muriel

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 29, 2021 / 8:51 pm

      Hi. I think they grow mostly in the midwest and eastern parts of the USA. I remember reading that they have a short shelf life, so that’s maybe one reason why they aren’t cultivated too much for mass consumption.

      Like

  32. Fictionophile September 30, 2021 / 1:46 pm

    Fab post Neil. You have me salivating for a PawPaw. I’ve never had one.
    Also, it is good to know the Wallflowers have some new music out. I’ve been a fan ever since they released “One Headlight” several years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger September 30, 2021 / 4:01 pm

      Afternoon, Lynne. I’d like to see The Wallflowers in concert. Whenever they start touring again, I hope they’ll make a stop in my area.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. cincinnatibabyhead October 1, 2021 / 12:47 am

    Your last line hits the nail on the head fella. Also “Ill take my comforting moments when and where I can”.Im taking some comfort in this take.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. roughwighting October 1, 2021 / 8:37 am

    I’m allergic to most fruit (yes, I know, disastrous) including apples, strawberries, peaches, pears. Well, the list goes on and on. So most likely I’ll never try a Pawpaw. But I DO love vanilla pudding, and the next time I enjoy a spoonful of the pudding, I’ll close my eyes and pretend I’m enjoying a Pawpaw. Comfort food, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 1, 2021 / 12:32 pm

      Hi. Speaking of pudding: I haven’t had any of any kind in a pretty long while. I need ti rectify that. My favorites are tapioca pudding and rice pudding. Which puddings, in addition to vanilla, do you like best?

      Like

  35. Russell Gayer October 1, 2021 / 8:56 am

    I live in NW Arkansas and have picked Pawpaws myself. They are in season now. The biggest challenge is wading through the ticks and chiggers to get to the trees. My dad called them Arkansas bananas. They are quite a treat.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. alhenry October 2, 2021 / 11:00 am

    From pink doors to pawpaws! It’s a trip, this life–glad to see you were enjoying the ride recently, tapping your feet to a Wallflowers’ tune. Makes me think of Jackson Browne’s “For A Dancer”: “Dancing our sorrow away,
    Keep right on dancing
    No matter what fate chooses to play…”

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Lisa at Micro of the Macro October 2, 2021 / 11:07 am

    I like the image, too, Neil. Cool song. When I read your title, I immediately thought by “Pawpaw” you were referring to a grandfather. That’s what I used to call mine. But I suppose that’s a southern thing. Happy to hear you found the papaw you sought – I’ve found nostalgia for taste can be strong. 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 2, 2021 / 1:51 pm

      Hey there, Lisa. In my region, southeast Pennsylvania, pawpaws are pretty rare. I’m lucky to have found one. Probably they were much wider known around here a few centuries ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  38. cigarman501 October 2, 2021 / 5:00 pm

    PawPaws supposedly grow wild here. They must hide well because I’ve never found one.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. rkrontheroad October 2, 2021 / 5:08 pm

    Great description – when I read vanilla pudding, I wanted one! I remember the song about the pawpaw patch but had never seen one. Jakob Dylan’s music has a nice, yes comforting, sound. Have you seen the movie Echo in the Canyon, about the California groups in Laurel Canyon in the 60s. Dylan interviews, and plays with some contemporaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. selizabryangmailcom October 3, 2021 / 6:06 am

    I lived vicariously through you and that pawpaw. What a description of love and joy !!
    And the music IS very easy-going and hypnotic. Perfect song to eat a pawpaw to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 3, 2021 / 11:28 am

      Hi, Stacey. It was pretty neat to eat a pawpaw after not being able to find one for a long, long time. It’s the type of fruit that you’d think comes from a tropical region, but it doesn’t — it’s indigenous to parts of North America.

      Liked by 1 person

      • selizabryangmailcom October 3, 2021 / 3:33 pm

        Yeah, I NEVER would think something like that was indigenous here. Fascinating!
        Hubby had to correct me this morning because I thought some parts of Africa had tigers. NOT indigenous to Africa. Duuuuuuh.
        But on a side note, we were talking about them because, if you thought elephants had a good memory, well….so do tigers. And if you hurt one, it’ll remember you, find you, and kill you. Evidently they’re EXTREMELY vengeful.
        Nothing to do with pawpaws, obviously. Just “indigenousness”, lol

        Liked by 1 person

  41. carolinehelbig October 3, 2021 / 2:56 pm

    It’s so soothing when something seemingly unrelated (the pawpaw) can bring back great memories like your love for your mom’s vanilla pudding. “Peace, tolerance warmth”…I’m with you. The photo is lovely. Besides the happy colour I also find the script style pleasing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 3, 2021 / 4:51 pm

      Greetings. Indeed, I hadn’t thought about vanilla pudding in eons. And then the pawpaw stirred my memory bank. It’s funny how that goes, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 3, 2021 / 4:55 pm

      Hey, Jeff. I’m pretty sure that it’s near the end of pawpaw season, but maybe you can still find one (if pawpaw trees grow in your region). See ya!

      Like

  42. Christy B October 5, 2021 / 2:51 pm

    I’m in Canada and had not heard or seen a pawpaw before reading this post. I’m glad you found one and it sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 5, 2021 / 4:34 pm

      Hi. You know, someone else today commented on this post, saying that some easily-accessible walking trails in central Pennsylvania go through wooded areas where there are pawpaw trees. She said the pawpaws fall to the ground, where anyone can pick them up and take them home. Maybe I’ll head out there next year and forage for pawpaws.

      Liked by 1 person

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