Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Despite the cold rain this morning - the snow line has not yet reached down to us; any day now – we went out for our morning walk with Kaya, who is a good walker for one who is nearly four, walks great distances without complaint, finding things of interest along the way; today it was cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus L.), which are at their peak of ripeness about now, at least at this elevation. Dressed in red, Kaya picked and ate a lot of those red fruits, they are even more delicious when bright and wet with rain.

The only actual purpose-y purpose for our walk (true walks eschew all purpose) was to visit the yuzu tree of one of our upmountain neighbors, who lives in Kyoto and visits his mountain house occasionally, but has little use for the wonderful yuzu his tree produces in prodigious quantity, so he says we can take as much as we want, which is one of the symptoms of paradise, so these days we stop by to pick only a few to use in lunch or dinner or to put in the bath.

And one of the things that delights any child is the sight of a tree full of ripe fruit freely pickable, so Kaya was looking forward to the yuzufull moment. When we got close to the spot, however, we could see that the tree was no longer largely yellow with ripe yuzu; it was entirely green! When we got up close, we couldn’t see a single fruit. As to culprit clues, the ground around was littered with scraps of yuzu peel bearing the unmistakably myriad marks of monkey teeth.

If you had asked me yesterday I would have said monkeys don't eat yuzu; they're too sour. which proves at least one thing: when it comes to monkeys, you're better off asking someone else. Not only do monkeys like the sour fruit, by the standards of a Manhattan price for one yuzu, the gourmet beasts had cleared about $1000 worth in one simian fandango. But way up on top of the tree (which had been bent with the weight of the fruit) we found two last yuzu; so Kaya could jump up and down as intended, with one bright yellow fragrant yuzu in each hand in the rain.

We’ll have one yuzu in our lunchtime nabe, and put one in the bath tonight.

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