Tuesday, May 22, 2007


A PUZZLING LACK OF RUBBER SNAKES


I’ve given up on growing slow-swelling onions, at least until (if ever) I move or build my mountain garden stalag, but some kind of madness comes over me each Spring and I cannot help myself: I plant tomatoes, the first garden plant I grew when I was a kid. For me, there is no kitchen garden without tomatoes, even if I don't get any of them. According to my careful statistical calculations, there's a reasonable (but not necessary) possibility that I'll get to the tomatoes before the monkeys do; it happens sometimes, the same way people find large gold nuggets sometimes, as earlier this Spring with my mushrooms.

Tomatoes grow fast and abundantly, and even though there's a good chance I'll get some of them, maybe even most of them, to better my odds I surrounded the tomato plants with takanotsume (hawk's talon) plants, the small but prolific hot Japanese red pepper, just to see if their flaming presence had any deterrent effect on the red-faced monkey tomato thieves.

Another trick I think would work is to put one or two brightly realistic rubber snakes among the tomato plants, since monkeys go bats at the sight of snakes (love to be on hand to see the effect of that!), but for some interesting reason, realistic rubber snakes are not easy to come by in Japan, where it would appear they could be most beneficial. This brings to mind Japan's serious lack of cherry pie. Now that I think of it, I have never seen a realistic rubber snake in Japan. Rubber snakes of whatever kind have never played any noticeable part in Japanese society that I can recall, as they do in the West, from the toy and practical joke level to serious realistic snake collecting. I must investigate this, not only for the cultural aspect, but more importantly for the sake of access to the tomatoes of tomorrow.

7 comments:

Annette said...

So then you could make some Sun-Dried Tomato Monkey Bread :)

What kind of tomatoes are you trying to grow, by the way?

Val said...

No cherry pie, but I have learned a new word today in my beginners Japanese clas. We were carefully tutored in the exact pronunciation = appuru pai, nearly as good as cherry pai?

Winston said...

Email me your address and I'll send over a couple of rubber snakes. And maybe a piece of cherry pie.

Maya's Granny said...

When I was growing tomatoes in Fairbanks the summer was too short and about 75% of them would still be green come first frost. We would pull the plants out by the roots and hang them upside down in paper bags. The tomatoes would ripen very well.

Michael said...

I'll never forget when a 3-foot-long ao daisho -- a wicked-looking but harmless bluish-green snake -- crawled up the drainpipe outside my second-floor apartment in the Japanese countryside and ensconced himself in the washing machine on my balcony. I tried to dislodge him but was scared silly. My neighbors laughed and told me that such a visit by an ao daisho was actually a good omen. I would've preferred a rubber snake.

Todd said...

Rest assured, the entire country is not devoid of good rubber replica snakes. Okinawa's infamous habu is the inspiration for more than a few scary snakes in the local souvenir shops.

Joy Des Jardins said...

What, they could come up with Godzilla...but no realistic rubber snakes? Come on! Hope the pepper plants work on those little marauders Robert.