Monday, May 09, 2005


While I was splitting oak as the day headed for noon, every now and then I'd hear a loud thrash in the bamboo downhill east of the house; I'd look expecting to see some large animal come blundering out, but saw nothing, figured it must be an oddly careless wild pig forcing its way through the bamboo - unlikely to be a bear - went back to splitting, then again the noise and again. Finally, I saw a monkey silhouette rise up into the higher foliage, then another and another, a whole tribe of them had gone through the bamboo to get to the tall trees at the center of that bamboo grove, apparently to loaf at their ease in the sunny breeze amidst the ample edibles there - sort of a simian grandstand - while observing yours truly doing something that animals never did in all their history until one of our ancestors took an intelligent leap and became the first of us two-leggeds a few eons ago, which led to me in this particular instance.

So there we were, the self-styled homo sapiens with axe and the self-nonstyled toolless monkeys, together on the mountainside for a few moments of special interchange, the latter chattering away at their leisure in their tree-arm easy chairs as I sawed and lugged and chopped and sweated.

After observing my activities in silence for a few moments, the lesser monkeys asked the Alpha male (I'm translating here): "What the hell is he doing?" Alpha responded: "Looks like he's breaking up those big trees into little pieces for another one of those pointless human reasons. Hand me a couple of those berries. Breaking up trees? He doesn't look angry. Say is that the same guy who was doing this yesterday? How come he's blue today? He was brown yesterday! He can change his skin. Why? Who knows with humans. He's the guy used to grow onions, now he's breaking up trees into sticks; who can explain what the hairless do? More berries. Must have some influence though, he got all those trees to lay down like that. Male No. 8, check out his garden. Wife No. 4, get me some nuts."

No. 8 tries to sneak into the garden on the south side of the house; at once I race for my supply of AMBMs (Anti-Monkey Ballistic Missiles, known in times of peace as "rocks"); loud screeching from the trees: "8, he sees you! Get out of there fast!" I've only planted radishes, spinach, lettuce and ginger so far, though, none of which monkeys like, and the tomato plants are still small, so there's nothing for 8 to find anyway. Still, it's good to fire away at the neophytes, teach them that entering my garden is a matter of hefty risk. 8 speeds back to the tribe in the trees and nibbles on a stick as he listens to Alpha pontificate:

"Unknowable creatures those humans - grow stuff we don't want - I'll never figure them out; who else would grow spinach one day then spend days breaking trees into small pieces, only to just stack the pieces up? Wood's not food; all beyond wisdom, if you ask me. More berries. Some of those tasty buds, too. Now this, this is the life. I can't imagine why there's a want to be humans, though; sure can't be fun. Look at that guy sweat!"

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