Wednesday, October 16, 2002


Last night, fresh (well, not very fresh actually) back from big city Osaka, with the afterfeeling of city crowds and the subway free-for-all jamboree still about me, I took the big flashlight and went out into the dark rainy garden to cut some nira (mild Japanese chives) to use in making dinner. As I approached the nira patch I heard, as though at the probing of my lightbeam, a great rustling in the short mountain bamboo that grows freely on the adjoining property.

I shined the light directly toward the noise as it grew toward me, thinking it might be an inoshishi or even a bear, when out trooped a small gang of three very rained-on and bedraggled monkeys, two young females and a teenager, nonplused by this sudden attention, as they saw it.

They had been quietly sitting under the big oak tree out of the rain, waiting for morning and my onions for breakfast, and now this... this self-proclaimed "onion owner" was making them move.

When they emerged from the bamboo into the garden they immediately headed directly away from me and proceeded to amble slowly into the dark toward the road, glancing back now and then, the females as though saying to the younger one "Pay no attention to that guy with the light, just keep moving, but remember where the onions are," the young one right off beginning to drift in the direction of the onions till I spotlit him in the bright beam, edged him back with the others and lit their way off the property.

I then cut the nira I wanted, confirmed that the garden was indeed fully monkeyless, and went in for dinner. How different the crowds are, out in the country.