Monday, March 13, 2006


As it turned out, we safely beat the monkeys home; they were delayed by some large tangerines a farmer had discarded onto his rice paddy, where the marauders hung around for a goodly while, peeling and eating and scurrying off with armfuls of orange fruit to eat in private where no one else would get any.

It being a fine day, with rain coming tomorrow, now was the time to clean out the long overdue raingutters. So an hour or so later, there I was up on the stepladder with a hand in a downspout when I heard an odd sound behind me, like an upset simian adolescent. But how could this be, when I was physically present in my garden? Turning my head around as best I could, I beheld there atop my herringbone layout of shiitake logs a large male monkey who had quietly crept into the garden while my back was to it, he knowing full well that although I was present, I was up on a ladder and so no immediate threat.

If I had stepped out of my doorway, he'd have been off like a shot. But he knew what ladders were, and the little that humans could do atop them. He kept his eyes on me full time while both of his hands felt the logs for fat shiitake. A few meters behind him squatted an adolescent monkey, the one who had given the game away by being unable to stifle his complaint at being stiffed out of a whole show window of savory shiitake by the big bully. The look on his face was much like my look when I was 15 and really, really wanted that Corvette. The teenage monkey was paying no attention to me, since he knew that the big guy was taking care of that; he just eyed the big fat shiitake with very forlorn eyes.

Like an expert simian I hissed at the thief from atop the ladder. Like an even more expert simian, he put a big shiitake in his mouth and grabbed another. I started down the ladder. He put another shiitake in his mouth (they use it like a briefcase) and groped around beneath the logs where the fattest shiitake were. Off the ladder now and more simian than ever, I raced toward him, looking as big as possible. He had no time to grab another mushroom; I grabbed a rock and heaved it. He disappeared into the forest across the road. He had dropped a fat mushroom, which I pocketed. I also harvested the rest of the remaining mature ones, though clearly the monkeys had gotten most of the biggies.

I had been checking the shiitake every day I'd been home for the past couple of weeks, and no more than buds had emerged. Then I'm away for two days, don't check them for just one morning and whooom! they all come out at once to the max during one night, just in time for the winter-hungry monkeys. Makes you wonder whether it's better to have a career or just lope through the forest.


M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

You strike me as the kind of guy who carried a sling-shot in his back-pocket when he was a kid. Seems like that might come in handy now.

Joy Des Jardins said...

There's something to be said for just loping through the forest...even at the risk of being pelted by rocks and notorious for such thieving ways. Sorry about your shittakes Bob.

Chancy said...

Good heavens, Robert, Aren't you afraid of those monkeys?

Next thing you know they will be driving off in your vehicle. Don't leave keys in the ignition.


Robert Brady said...

No, Chancy, my sense of territoriality is much bigger than theirs. As to their stealing cars, it won't be long, I suspect...