Thursday, February 27, 2003



No, this has nothing to do with George II, either. I went out to do some pruning yesterday and found that on the day before, the monkey tribe had passed through my part of the mountain and torn off and eaten most of the leaves from the yatsude (Japanese aralia; Fatsia japonica ) on the southern edge of my garden; which, after a moment's thought I didn't mind too much because just between you and me I don't like the plant, never have, it was on the property when we bought it, it's one of those classic must-have Japanese garden plants, but this one is spindly-gangly and drops big dead brown curly leaves all over within and around itself and neighboring shrubs, and looks rather ghastly at times in its pale green reaching-zombie appearance. I was surprised that the monkeys seemed to relish its leaves, they'd ripped practically every one of them off, the ground was strewn with long green rapined stems, and that's a lot of leaves, they'd even broken a number of the large trunkstems to get at them.

The leaves have a smell somewhat remeniscent of celery very distantly crossed with fennel, though I've heard somewhere that the plant is poisonous; it certainly looks the part. But there's no accounting for monkeys' tastes. So I cleaned up after the simian marauders, who had also feasted on the remnants of a few long onions I'd had growing in a box on the deck, they just threw dirt and green onion bits all over the place as though nature would clean up after them as always, spoiling them rotten, nature in this case being me, a role I usually appreciate and am deeply honored by, though not in this instance, but where can I register my complaint? Anyway, I didn't treally mind that either.

But after I'd gone to all the noble trouble of sloughing off these depredations ("well, you know, monkeys will be monkeys"), you can imagine the rage in my umbrage when I saw that the little sons of centipedes had chewed off every-single-bud from the three-year-old fig tree, from which I was expecting maybe some baby fruit one of these years. They'd even broken off the upper branches to get at the buds higher up. And I had unjustly blamed Dr. Crow for the buds missing last year; my apologies, Doctor. But now every bud is gone, and it's doubtful whether the tree will survive. This means war. Of some kind. A nice war. I'll use cream pies or something. Monkeys hate cream pies.

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