Thursday, February 15, 2007
Yesterday it rained not cats and dogs, but many another beast. While up on the ladder clearing the rain gutters (the need for which is best perceived during heavy rain), I turned around and saw in the winterflattened meadow across the road a slow swarm of sopping wet monkeys of all ages, nearly the same color and texture as the ground, moving upmountain (as I had seen them do in the fall) only unlike that occasion, this time they were in no hurry, since there was nothing special up ahead, or even where they were, it being so early and not springtime yet.
I don't know why they were moving, unless it was because the monkids were driving them crazy so they were just ambling along slowly while the wee ones burned themselves out bouncing all over the place in the manner of little kids of all species, the adults foraging for maybe some super-early sprouts, or old acorns the deer overlooked. More likely though, they were after just a quiet moment or two at some distance from the furry toddlers.
With nothing much else going on, while ruminating over their serendipitous snacks they took quite an interest in me (much as I was calmly watching them, since as yet I have nothing in my garden). I was after all a prime exhibit in their mountain zoo: "See that creature way up in the air in the rain, little one? Dressed in some kind of fur substitute? Obviously a throwback, for even though he's furless he's standing high up in the rain like that, right outside his permanent dwelling place! Can you imagine the need for such a thing, an artificial structure one lives in perforce? And given that dreadful lack of fur, when outside he has to compensate by draping himself in odd scraps so that he can madly stand up high in heavy weather to no worthy purpose! At the very least, we have some tasty dirt... Bizarre creatures aren't they... Mind you little ones: don't go the way those humans went..."
But then on the other hand a couple of adult monkeys maundered into the garden, where they spotted my shiitake logs all symmetrically arranged and went over to look. It's too early for shiitake, but there are several new logs I've drilled and plugged from the recent windfall of firewood, so the two monkeys, obviously accountants, had to check the fresh inventory, assign serial numbers and input the new data to the massive simian mushroom database for future reference.
Which they did. But despite their tacit degrees, just looking at the logs disturbed their monkeyness. Anything neatly arranged like that, particularly by humans, disturbs a monkey, just as it disturbs a human toddler, though in growing up, most humans recapitulate the advances of evolution (as humans see it) and overcome their revulsion at the sight of order. Chaos is the natural preference of the base native, however. Monkeys despise symmetry, which is so unnatural; they prefer, when they can, to restore human efforts to a more pleasing natural disarray. In this case, they tossed a couple of the useless logs here and there to do their part, but it seemed as though their hearts weren't really in it.
Like I say, I've never seen monkeys out in heavy rain before - working overtime, as it were - not dozing warmly up in an evergreen, but moving about in the cold, scavenging for sprouts or old acorns on the wet ground, unlike all the earlier years I've been here, and nothing growing yet in that field across the road. But perhaps even more importantly, I've never before seen monkeys go half-heartedly at my shiitake logs, as though it were a waste of valuable time. Could it be they're feeling the first stirrings of what we humans know as ambition?
Having me grow their mushrooms is a form of outsourcing...
Posted by Robert Brady on Thursday, February 15, 2007