Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Went upmountain yesterday evening to harvest the many akebi we'd spotted in several places on our morning walk, i. e., noted where crows had tossed bits of purple akebi skin along the roadside.

Staring into the forest for treelike vines, or gazing way up among the tree branches for treelike branches can be pretty much the waste of time it sounds like; if you don't already know where the akebi are, it's easier to follow the trail of wildlife breadcrumbs.

So I got out the long pruning shears and some work gloves and we were soon on our way to collect our natural bounty. But it turned out that we were way not natural enough. Somehow it had slipped my mind that a number of good climbers are a lot closer to the natural heartbeat of things than we are who live in houses and rooms and can't smell the ripe fruit peaking in perfection up there in the trees: three full days of warm sun had done the trick.

When we got there the road was littered with empty purple skins; the wildlife had beaten us to it, in this case in the form of monkeys, and craftily, without a sound; we'd heard none of the standard squeals of monkey party delight. On the other hand, though, the monkeys don't seem to know that the akebi skins themselves are very good to eat, when properly prepared. The white, sweetish, pudding-like, hard-seed-filled fruit is the least of the akebi.

And what an odd fruit, like a purple sausage; saw on tv yesterday a documentary about some country folk who make 'akebi sushi,' filling the prepared skins with rice and vegetables and then steaming them. The dried young leaves make a good tea, and the autumn-harvested stems do everything but walk the dog (though they do make a good leash, and are excellent for baskets). I harvested some stems and sliced them thin for herbal medicinal use. Beautiful in cross section.


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