Monday, October 09, 2006


On Saturday while I was out in the garden being blown around by the hurricane and drilled by bullets of rain as I rocked down the covers on the firewood, I noticed that the first of the autumn shiitake had emerged from my oak logs, so I got a basket and finetoothcombed those logs until I got every mushroom and bud.

Yesterday when we came back from a windy but beautiful trip to another beautiful mountain village in Shiga (I'll post about that here as soon as I get my breath and don't have 20 hurricane-postponed tasks to take care of), in my last daylight task of the afternoon I was out clearing away some of the downed branches and other debris when I noticed that some species or other had been at the shiitake logs.

I went over there and saw that it had been monkeys, alright. Only they would make such a mess. This was worse than usual because of the frustration, you see. They had come dripping anticipatory saliva, found no mushrooms whatsoever, had a fit and blamed the logs (monkeys hate to be frustrated and never blame themselves for anything, traits still observed in some human world leaders). They turned each log in apish disbelief, then tossed them when they found no hidden mushrooms; they gnawed and clawed at the bark and ends of logs; there were logs all over the place, it was a picture of simian frustration.

They must have come just a short while before we returned home, for the air around there was still tinged blue with the atmospheric residue of monkey cursing. Monkey cursing is not a pretty thing to hear, even for humans; the phrases they use could not be repeated here, in the name of human decency, even if they could be translated (monkey bluestreaks can't be translated, since the personal priorities of monkeys are so much lower than our own; it's difficult even for indecent humans to imagine the depths plumbed therein), but if you've ever heard a veteran sailor at sea hit his finger with a hammer, what followed is diplomatic repartee compared to what the furry marauders emit when their apish expectations are as confounded as they were at my house.

Though unfortunately I hadn't been there to enjoy that delightful event in person (of course they wait till I leave, to do their marauding), I stood there wind-staggering and dripping rain with the smile of a higher species on my face: I had out-monkeyed the monkeys. I had snatched my mushrooms right out from under their flat red noses. For lunch today, I used some of the delicious mushrooms-at-their-peak to make a kind of country gourmet meal, and to add a little bit of nyah-nyah spice I ate it deliciously in the at-last sunlight out on the deck, letting the exquisite shroomy fragrance waft into the shiitakeless mountain territory of the big-time losers.

How sweet it is.


Maya's Granny said...

Beating the monkeys to the shrooms! What a victory for our side.

Chancy said...

May I suggest a sheltered video camera such as those used in stores aimed directly at the log pile or anywhere else the marauding monkeys congregate to do their damage. Then you would have the proof of their damage and could report them to simian headquarters.

Besides the video would be great on YouTube.

Robert Brady said...

No telling what these creatures would be like, once they became famous... Sunglasses, agents, limousines, red carpets, liposuction, sound bites... Of course then they wouldn't care at all about my mushrooms, which would be good...

Karen said...

Ahhhhh...thank you for your sumptuous story-telling. I am sitting here smiling at the image of monkey tantrums.