The hunter gatherer has paw-paw neck.
Don't know what it is she does down there in the woods, but apparently it
is necessary to outwit raccoons, squirrels and other creatures more
capable of tree climbing than we are.
raccoon is too obsessed with consciousness, edging and watching lavender
cuttings die to venture far from the vegetable garden. As well, he
looks into woodland and sees a pestilence of crawling things and tropical
agues. Also there may be argument as to which part of whose land the
paw-paw trees grow upon. So he pretends to be busy while she patents
tools for gathering paw-paw.
Paw-paw neck itself is
achieved, I understand, by peering upwards into paw-paw trees for extended
periods. A procedure often complicated by the occasional stumble and
the general irritation of biting insects along with what hunter gatherers
I first became familiar with
a variant of "Snurk" amongst the English. There was
something called "Hay Fever" which the more sensitive school
boys suffered from. I thought the sickness related to a combination
of character flaw and slightly warmer temperature. Later I
discovered the word "allergy" as a perfectly real complaint
remedied by inexpensive pills.
"Snurk" however, while
belonging to the same family of sickness as the gentle "Hey
Fever", is more virulent and aggressive. It destroys the temperament,
robs one of the ability to stand up, and is only a little ameliorated by
quantities of red wine.
I agree paw-paws are worth the ordeal,
but in my mind I recall another paw-paw. Its fruit grew about head
height from a plant about ten feet tall. Okanya's mother never strayed
far from it when fruit emerged. And in all this world I have never
known a person who could throw a stone as far or as accurately as she could,
so neither Okanya nor I ever got to actually pick a paw-paw.
The season for gathering paw-paw here in
Kentucky has not yet peaked. So I know there will be encouragement to
indulge in paw-paw hunting. But I remain inclined toward maintaining a
tradition of old friendships, and should this be deemed ineligible I am very
practiced at sneezing.