Saturday, September 30, 2006


GRUB GRUB


Last summer in my hurry before leaving for the states I sectioned and stacked a half-cord of oak where it was most convenient at the time, beneath the plum tree, and obverse to the prevailing wind. As a result the wood couldn't dry adequately, so the wood beetles and fungus-cultivating ants renovated it into an insectivoral Beverly Hills Grand Hotel. In further consequence, this morning I was out early continuing the task of stripping the damp bark off the sections under the watchful eyes of butterflies, dragonflies, a frog in his niche in the deck joinery, and Dr. Crow, who was up in the chestnut tree burbling over the prospect. He knows that whenever I do this I uncover handfuls of fat white wood-beetle larvae, some the size of Wichetty grubs, that dine on the oak cambium layer and into the wood itself, and when exposed just fall to the ground and lay there invitingly, like crow antipasto.

When I first started splitting oak around here, splitting trunks 2 feet in diameter at the time, a villager stopped by to watch and commented that if I found any of those big white oak grubs, they're really delicious, a traditional local delicacy, like Osuzumebachi (giant hornet) larvae. I passed on it at the time and have since continued to do so, though the grubs are as big as shrimp, and I'm sure that in a time of no food they'd make quite a tasty (and organic) gumbo. Anyway the Crow family has known all this stuff for eons, and he couldn't wait for me to leave his restaurant.

As I was working I kept hearing the acorns fall on my upmountain neighbor's ceramic tile roof, causing me to recall that unfortunately for my neighbor he hadn't thought, before he built his log house, to cut down the big oak or at least the branches that right overgrow the roof; and for a number of weeks this time of year, the crafty old tree releases its thousands of acorns one by one (like a machine gun if it's windy); the hard nuts strike the roof here and there like bullets, rebound all over the deck and against the glass doors, making a nutty racket 24 hours a day, waking my neighbor up at night. And of course the pattern of acorn ballistics is completely random, which is much worse; he lies there waiting...

Our chestnut is now also doing the same thing - something to be careful of when you walk under the tree - and its spiky missiles are much larger, thudding on the deck and rebounding off the big glass doors on two sides of our house, which can be startling in the dead silence of evening, but very considerately the chestnut does this only for a few days, and not during the night. Or maybe I sleep too soundly...

Enough of these musings; getting hot as we near noon, time to have lunch and let the good Doctor enjoy his antipasto.

5 comments:

Joy Des Jardins said...

I wonder if Dr. Crow realizes what a gem he has in you. Bon Appetite!

Coll said...

The size of the grubs is quite amazing... but no.. not appetizing. :-)

Chancy said...

Fried, Broiled or Baked ?



"Entry Word: grub
Function: noun
Text: substances intended to be eaten
"after the game, we headed to the diner for some hearty grub"

Mary Lou said...

ANd does Dr. Crow know how much you sacrificed for him? I Know the monkeys are aware of your kindness.

Robert Brady said...

I do it mostly for them, as they well know. My reward is simply in getting whatever my share may be, while having a place in the awesome scheme of things.