The other morning from the deck I shouted a solo monkey out of the garden, a female, not big but bigly disappointed at being rousted from her quiet (sneaky) moment in that peaceful, beanfilled, monkeyloving place. She climbed slowly back over the fence with that over-the-shoulder resignation that monkeys are so good at, because they really own everything. She was a scout; the troupe of beangrabbers would soon follow.
So I got my work duds on and went out there because I'd seen yesterday that there were lots of on-the-verge beans that would be ready now anyway. I opened the gate and walked in to check the damage, saw that there was none; the furry spy had been rousted before she could even nip a cuke-- she'd just memorized the inventory.
As I was going around double-checking the zooks and cukes and rows of climbing beans, nigglethinking what a fool I am to grow such things in monkeyworld, I noted that the scout had remained nearby in simian confidence, sitting quietly in the shadows between the garden and the roadside trees, keeping an eye on her vegetables, feeling a bit proprietary toward her beans, just now at the front edge of their profusion (I had harvested a large bowlful of them yesterday in anticipation of just this sort of event, even though I'd seen only one stray monkey in the past 6 months).
Seems monkeys are as punctual as bean caterpillars, which emerge hungry at precisely the time the beans are ready to feed them, a bug-bean arrangement finalized many eons ago, long before we learned to plant for our own purposes, despite bugs and monkeys. The bugs don't even bother to laugh at the thought that these are planted beans, and the monkeys don't care, they have the same sort of paleoagreement with the beans and the like: you grow it, we'll eat it. Pretty basic. Way unlike our Nietzschean struggles.
It's in their genes; the earth's output is clearly their heritage, so in that sense she was sitting there watching me grab her beans and pluck them-- then not even eat them before another walker could get them, but put them in some kind of pointless container that interferes with climbing - What the hell for, she looked like she was thinking, stomachs are all you need... never understand these walkers - but I was bigger than she was, which is the way monkeys roll, bottom line - humans too, in more technological ways that include kill ratio and stopping power...
Once I started picking the beans, Scout finally gave up, ambled on out of the shadows, down the stone steps and across the road to the forest where she found a nice vantage tree and sat in it watching me through the leaves and uttering a regular sort of grieving sound, a single syllable moan, like those Italian grandmothers in my old NY neighborhood used to do when as outfielder I had to sometimes go over the fence into their kitchen gardens where there were the most delicious tomatoes in the world. Yes, I was a monkey in my younger days and this is all a form of karma, though I no longer grow tomatoes because I get so few of them, and none ever as delicious as those were...
Scout sat there continuously making that slow rhythmic lament all the while I went carefully along my net wall of her ready beans, taking for myself any beanpod that seemed large enough to catch a monkey's attention, because I knew that she was just being a sound marker, spotter, guide for the approaching troupe (which showed up before long), her eyes following my every move; a companion of hers - male, probably retired, was not far away, breaking branches off an oak tree and throwing them onto the ground in a kind of bluster, which didn't work on me. There was much frustration in the air, except where I was.
The troupe arrived, as always with an unexpected flourish. About 20 minutes after gleaning the beans I was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping my coffee, keeping an eye on the garden, my bedding hanging out over the deck railing in the nooning sun, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a brown furry rocket leap from the cedar into the weeping cherry, thence with a whoosh down onto the deck railing, zip across my futon and from there into the plum tree, on into the bay tree and down to the ground, streaking for my garden.
I looked out the big window and there was brown fur everywhere: there were mothers with newborn wee ones on their backs ambling along, slow loafing males who would get there after the harvest, midrange females just then sneaking over my garden fence but by then I was clacking a stone on the deck railing and whistling, shouting pretty nasty monkey curses and clapping my hands; tossed a rock or two and they all loped away to beyond rock distance, where they would wait until I went back inside my big box...
The word was getting around, though: there were no beans left. The troupe was buzzing; they couldn't believe I had taken their beans, and they were pissed: I could tell by the way they looked at me from the road, their faces an even angrier red than usual; they can't stand it when we steal their stuff.