Saturday, December 04, 2004


There I was out and way up pruning the cedars this morning so as to get the task done before the rains that will drench the rest of this weekend, holding on for dear life as I stretched on tiptoe from the tiptop of the fully extended manymeterstall ladder, making a further ladder upward out of the pruned branches, thence further heavenward cutting away the shadows so as to let more winter light into the house (untended lower branches of a mass of cedars can get pretty funereal).

Yes, there I was; and in such a place it goes without saying that regarding the total absence of further shiitake harvests - if such had even crossed my mind amidst all that fragrant green - there would have been on my face that supremely confident look Donald Duck wore in that cartoon where he was certain he had just stopped his house from breaking in two, when the actual fact broke in on him; such as well was the latter look on my face when, from way up there my eyes, following the path of a falling branch, beheld on the sunward side of the stack of shiitake logs (where there had been even fewer shiitake than on the shady side at the absolutely final harvest a few weeks ago so I didn't even look anymore) several new shiitake of a size and pristinity that would cop a country fair blue ribbon easy, if there were any counties in Japan. Or fairs in them. With blue ribbons.

So when I was finished and had bigger shoulders from sawing first with the left and then with the right over and over again all morning, building an appetite to match the hour, I took those shiitake and sliced them thin as paper and sauted them in my home-made basil-flavored olive oil with a little garlic and broth and grated pecorino, then tossed in the al dente fettucine and ecstasized, the while admiring the cedars with their new shoulders.

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